Skin Cancer Early Diagnosis

Early detection of melanoma can save lives. Early detection of other skin cancers gives enhanced functional and cosmetic outcomes. Our dermatologists are experts in the early diagnosis of skin cancer.


In addition to closely assessing any lesions you might have of concern, your dermatologist will frequently recommend a full skin check (a check of the rest of your skin not covered by underwear). Small skin cancers are often asymptomatic (not bothering to you), inconspicuous to you, or in areas you can’t easily see yourself. (You are of course free to decline a full skin check if you prefer.)

In checking for skin cancers, your dermatologist will take into consideration the history of any lesions of concern to you, and any history of any past skin cancers. The tools for early diagnosis including good lighting, close magnified examination including dermoscopy, and sometimes serial dermoscopic photographs or full body photographs. A skin biopsy may be suggested to help diagnose a lesion. This usually involves taking a small sample of a lesion, and sending for histological examination (microscopic examination). Certain lesions (e.g. suspicious moles) are more appropriately fully removed (excised) if there is any suspicion.


With the aid of expert clinical examination, your dermatologist can not only help detect skin cancers early (when the outcomes are best), but also minimize unnecessary costs and scarring from unnecessary treatments.


Having a regular skin check with your dermatologist helps detect skin cancer early. Those who are at high risk of skin cancers (especially those who have had skin cancers before, or who have a lot of sun damage) benefit most from regular skin cancer surveillance.

Self-skin examination:

Regular self-skin examination a very important compliment to formal skin checks. What to look for:


  • Non-healing sores.
  • Any spot that bleeds repeatedly without obvious reason or from minimal trauma, especially if this has lasted for more than a few weeks.
  • Itch specific to a lesion (especially if this has lasted for more than a few weeks).
  • The ‘ugly duckling’. Any spot which doesn’t look like other common spots you have seen on your own body or on others.


In addition to the above, there are additional clues for melanoma.

Danger signs of melanoma

To remember the signs and symptoms of melanoma when checking your own
skin, follow the ABCDE and ABCDEFG method:


  • Asymmetry: The overall appearance of one half doesn’t match that of the other.
  • Border irregularity: The edges are ragged, notched, or blurred.
  • Colour: The colour is not uniform. Shades of tan, brown, and black are present. Dashes of red, white, and blue add to a mottled appearance.
  • Diameter: The size of the mole is greater than 6 mm, about the size of a pencil eraser.
  • Evolution: There is a change in the size, shape, symptoms (such as itching or tenderness), surface (especially bleeding), or colour of a mole.


Nodular melanoma can be particularly aggressive. Making it more difficult, they may even lack pigment (amelanotic). Lesions which show “EFG” (elevated, firm and growing) should be promptly evaluated.


  • Elevated: The lesion is raised above the surround skin.
  • Firm: The nodule is solid to the touch, and
  • Growing: The nodule is growing in size.

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