More awareness needed for skin cancer that looks like pimples - Melanoma Network

  • 02/11/2018
A regular melanoma mole.
A regular melanoma mole. Photo credit: File

An Australian expert is warning Kiwis to be aware of melanomas that could look like pimples or blisters.

Victorian Melanoma Service professor John Kelly told the fifth national melanoma summit that nodular melanomas are often overlooked.

The melanomas, which often look like persistent pimples or blood blisters, can be missed because they don't look like what people are told to look for when checking their skin.

"Nodular melanomas look quite different. They are small, red, firm to the touch and regular in shape, usually on the head and neck," he said.

"To begin with, they're not obviously a cancer. But they're growing in depth from the get go, whereas ordinary inflammatory nodules will come and go in a month.

"They usually stand out, even in sun damaged skin. They ulcerate early and bleed, which can be a helpful tipoff to pay attention to them."

Prof Kelly said nodular melanomas are extremely dangerous as they can grow very quickly.

"They grow quickly in depth - four times the rate of other melanomas - so any delay beyond the first month or two is critical," he said.

"If they can be removed in the first couple of months, the great majority of them would be cured and the death rate from nodular melanoma would come down dramatically."