Skin cancer: The ABCDE checklist that can help you look for signs of melanoma


In the latest of its series of health events, Be Well Medical Centre recently hosted a seminar on the prevention, detection & treatment of skin cancer.

The two hour seminar, which was attended by more than 50 people, featured presentations from Dr. Netrnapa Youngrod and Dr. Wutthi Sumetchotimaytha from the Wattanosoth Cancer Hospital, one of Thailand’s leading cancer hospitals and which is part of the Bangkok Hospital Group.

Skin cancer is a disease that perhaps many expats give little thought about until it becomes a reality for them.

Skin cancer happens when atypical skin cells grow out of control. Cases of skin cancer tend to occur on skin that gets exposed to sunlight, but it can develop anywhere there is skin.

It is the most common form of cancer, globally accounting for at least 40% of cancer cases.

Dr. Netrnapa explained how there are three main types of skin cancer: Basal Cell Carcinoma, Basal Cell Carcinoma and Melanoma.

The main difference between melanomas and other skin cancers is that melanoma can metastasize (spread) to distant body sites such as the lungs, liver or brain.

Dr. Netrnapa also shared some of the risk factors associated with different types of skin cancer, which includes but is not limited to, exposure to the sun and a history of sunburns, a weakened or suppressed immune system, having fair skin or complexion, age and even taking certain medications.

For anyone who has a blemish on their skin and wonders if it could be skin cancer, Dr. Netrnapa shared a useful ‘ABCDE’ checklist that can help you detect a melanoma before it spreads.

Dr. Netrnapa said the checklist is also used by doctors to help diagnose melanoma.

A – Asymmetry – Asymmetrical moles are more likely to be melanoma.
B – Border – Irregular borders are a red flag.
C – Colour – If the spot has various colours, it’s more suspicious.
D – Diameter – Melanomas are usually bigger than 6 millimeters.
E – Evolution – Has the mole changed in size, shape, or colour?

Skin cancer prevention and survival rates

In his presentation, Dr. Wutthi shared information on the different types of medical treatments available to people who are diagnosed with skin cancer.

He also shared an excellent tip for anyone who is worried that a blemish or mole on their skin could be cancerous.

After making an appointment with a dermatologist, Dr. Wutthi suggested that people regularly take a photo of the spot so the doctor can see if it’s evolving.

Dr. Wutthi also revealed that providing a melanoma is found early enough and treated in stage 1 and 2, 98 percent of patients survive at least five years.

In terms of prevention, Dr. Wutthi advised people to follow the “Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek and Slide” method for reducing unhealthy exposure to the sun:

SLIP on some sun-protective clothing that covers as much skin as possible.

SLOP on some broad spectrum, water resistant SPF30+ (or greater) sunscreen. Apply sunscreen 20 minutes before you go outdoors and reapply every two hours, more frequently if you’re heavily sweating or towel drying. Apply at least a teaspoon of sunscreen for each limb, front and back of the body and half a teaspoon for the face, neck and ears.

SLAP on a hat to protect your face, head, neck and ears is best such as a broad brimmed, bucket or legionnaire style hat. Caps and visors do not provide adequate protection.

SEEK shade from the sun wherever possible, especially between 10am and 3pm when the UV is at its peak.

SLIDE on some sunglasses that are polarised, close-fitting, wrap-around style of sunglasses.

Be Well Medical Centre is a western-style primary care clinic located at the Banyan Resort in Hua Hin, welcoming residents and short-stay visitors.

To find out more about the services available, visit

Dr. Netrnapa Youngrod will return to Be Well on December 7 for private consultations. Appointments are required.