To speak to a specialist cancer nurse,
freefone the National Cancer Helpline
1800 200 700
Mon—Thurs 9am—7pm Fri 9am—5pm
The main signs may include one or more of the following:
If you have any of the above signs, get them checked out by your doctor as soon as possible. He or she will examine you and decide what to do. Melanoma has a very good chance of being cured if diagnosed and treated early.
Remember when checking a mole, look for the ABCDE:
Testing for cancer when you have no symptoms is called screening. There is no screening programme in Ireland for melanoma. Instead, you can examine yourself from head to toe every month. This can help you to learn the moles, freckles and other skin marks that are normal for you.
Stand in front of a long mirror to do this. Make sure you check the front, back and sides of your arms and legs. Also, check your groin, scalp and fingernails and your soles and the spaces between your toes.
If you have a risk of melanoma , talk to your doctor about getting screened more often and by a skin specialist called a dermatologist.
Visit your family doctor (GP) first who will examine your skin carefully. He or she can then decide to refer you to a skin specialist (dermatologist) for more tests and treatment at a hospital. Some GPs may take a sample of the affected skin and have it tested. But many GPs prefer that a skin specialist removes a suspected melanoma.
The tests at the hospital will include:
If you are diagnosed with melanoma, the next step is to find out the extent or stage of the cancer. This is known as staging. It can help your doctor to decide on the right treatment for you.
See Understanding Melanoma Booklet (pdf 2.73 MB) for more information on tests.
Staging means finding out the size of the tumour and if it has spread to other parts of your body.
Staging is very important as it allows your doctor to decide the best treatment for you.
There are different ways to stage melanoma. A common method is the Breslow scale. This scale refers to the thickness of the tumour within your skin. The thickness (depth) is measured in the laboratory once the tumour is removed. It can find out if the cancer cells have spread into the deeper layers of your skin.
Freephone 1800 200 700 to talk to a specialist cancer nurse
It's open Monday-Thursday from 9am to 7pm and Friday from 9am to 5pm