To check if you may be at a higher risk of skin cancer than the general population read below question. If your answer is yes to one or more questions please contact us for more information or to book an appointment.
Are you over 50 years old?
In general, your overall risk for cancer increases with time, as your body ages and your cells become more susceptible to developing a disease. This risk applies to skin cancers as well – however, melanoma in particular is also common in younger individuals, and people of all ages should be monitoring their body for warning signs.
Have you ever had melanoma?
If you have previously had melanoma, your risk of developing it again is higher than the general population. Extra precaution and regular visits to your doctor should be continued.
Does your family have a history of melanoma or any other skin cancer?
Although a family history of melanoma does not mean all other family members will develop the disease, it does mean that the rest of the family is at higher risk than the general population. While this risk varies based on the degree of relation between the individual and the family member with melanoma, nearly 8-12% of patients with melanoma have some family history. Therefore, if melanoma or other skin cancers run in your family, it is important to keep an eye on your moles, monitor your skin’s health and visit your doctor regularly.
Do you have 50 or more moles?
If you have over 50 moles, even if they are small and normal, your risk of developing melanoma is 3 times higher than the general population. Although melanoma can develop in new, growing moles, it often arises in existing ones. If you have 5 or moles that are larger than 5 mm in diameter, the same risk applies. It is especially important to get to know your moles and monitor any potential changes over time. Learn how to perform a thorough skin self-check. If you notice anything of concern, make an appointment with our doctors.
Do you have a mole that is changing over time? (Either in size, shape, or colour?)
Tracking changes over time can lead to the early detection and prevention of skin cancer. It is important to get to know your moles and watch for any potential changes that may develop over time. A growing or evolving mole can be a warning sign for skin cancer and should be shown to a doctor.
Are you worried about a mole?
If you are concerned about skin cancer or a particular mole, then get it checked. Why? Because 3 out of 5 melanomas diagnosed are first noticed by the person it affects the most.
Do you have a mole that is itching and/or has a history of bleeding?
Itching or bleeding of moles is not normal. If you answered yes, you may have a mole that requires immediate diagnosis.
Do you have a mole that looks different from the others?
“Normal” moles resemble each other. Melanomas look different compared to surrounding moles – they are “ugly ducklings”. If you have a mole that is an outlier, that looks or feels different from your other moles, have it checked.
Do you have a lot of freckles?
People with a high density of freckles have double the risk of developing melanoma than those with little to no freckling. If you have many freckles, especially on the upper back, you should take extra precaution to monitor your skin for any changes or warning signs of skin cancer. It is recommended you see your dermatologist regularly for full-body exams.
Do you have red hair, blonde hair, or light-coloured eyes? (blue, green, hazel)
People with light-coloured hair and eyes often fall into the Skin Type I category of the Fitzpatrick skin type classification, which determines an individual’s general risk for skin damage from the sun based on skin type. Individuals with Skin Type I are at a higher risk of developing skin cancer because they burn more easily and more often than other skin types. If you have this skin type, it is essential that you take extra precaution to protect your skin from sun damage, even with minimal sun exposure.
Do you have a history of sunburns, or excessive sun exposure?
Excessive sun, or UV exposure is linked to a higher risk of skin cancer because of the skin damage it can produce at the cellular level. It is the most important environmental risk factor for melanoma *, and fortunately it can be prevented by taking extra precautions to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays.
Did you have any major sunburns or spend a lot of time in the sun during childhood or adolescence?
Melanoma is related to your total UV exposure and this is significantly influenced by exposure to UV when your skin was “younger”. If you spent a lot of time in the sun when you were younger, or had sever sunburns, you are at an increased risk and should get checked.
If your answer is yes to one or more questions please contact us for more information or to book an appointment.