Many people have birthmarks, but what exactly lies within these marks that we have carried with us since birth? We know that they can appear anywhere on the body and come in many different shapes, sizes and colours. But did you know they can also mask something more sinister, such as melanoma?
Birthmarks are congenital, which means they are present at birth and are often benign (non-cancerous), however they can become cancerous.
Recently in Western Australia, a 37-year-old man underwent a skin check which revealed that his birthmark was a rare melanoma requiring treatment and multiple invasive surgeries. Read more about this remarkable case here.
Although most birthmarks carry a low risk of developing into skin cancer (particularly the common port wine stains and strawberry marks), a rare type, called a giant congenital melanocytic naevus, can develop into a melanoma.
Birthmarks, freckles and moles can all harbour skin cancer. It is recommended that you check your birthmarks regularly for signs of change and undertake regular skin checks. Early detection is key when it comes to successful treatment for skin cancer.
How to tell if your birthmark is potentially cancerous
Melanoma often shows no symptoms until at an advanced stage when treatment options are limited. Know your ABCDEs of melanoma and see your doctor immediately if you notice any of the warning signs.