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Is it a skin cancer or just a harmless mole? (What you can learn from Richie Benaud's death)

by , 10 April 2015

It's a sad day for the cricketing world.

Former Australia captain and celebrated “voice of cricket”, Richie Benaud, has died.

At the age of 84, you probably think old age was to blame. But reports reveal Benaud died in his sleep last night after losing his fight against skin cancer.

Sadly, it took the cancer only six months from detection to claim his life.

And that's pretty scary when you consider just skin cancer is almost always curable when diagnosed in its early stages.

Even more shocking, Cancer South Africa reveals that over 700 South African die from it each year simply because they didn't get worrying moles checked out in time.

If you're wondering whether that mole on your neck could be skin cancer or not, we urge you to spend the next few minutes with us as we tell you how to tell...

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Take a good hard look at your mole – it’s the only way to tell if it’s skin cancer

Not all skin moles are cancerous, but studies show that, by the time you hit 65, half the population will have had at least one mole that’s turned cancerous. 
And that begs the question: How do you tell if your mole is cancerous or not?
That’s where knowing your ABCDEs comes in, says skincancer.org. 

This easy-to-remember acronym could help you spot a cancerous mole before it takes your life: 

How to tell the difference between a mole and skin cancer
Asymmetry: Non-cancerous moles are symmetrical, like a circle or oval. Cancerous ones are NOT. So if you have a mole, draw a line through the middle and compare sides. If it’s lopsided on one side (in other words, the one half doesn’t match the other), see your doctor right away.  
Border: The edge of your mole should not be jagged, blurred or irregular. That’s the realm of a cancerous growth. 
Colour: Normal moles are usually one shade of colour – usually brown, tan, pink or the same colour as your skin. If your mole contains different colours, it could be cancer.
Diameter: A normal mole should be no bigger than 6.35mm in diameter – roughly the size of a pencil eraser. If it’s bigger, be suspicious. 
Evolution: If you notice any changes to your mole, be it shrinking, growing, changing colour, bleeding, etc. get your doctor to check it out immediately.
The only problem with this mole check is that it requires you to check your existing moles (and any new ones that appear) every 30 days or so. It’s the only way to know if anything changed in the past month. 
But then again, when you consider that it only takes you five minutes to do, that’s a small price to pay to detect this life-threatening disease early. 
[image courtesy of www.cumberlandsurgicalarts.com]

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