Look at the picture above.
What do you see?
And what does the tiger see when he’s looking at you?
And that evolutionary paradigm is what can save your life when it comes to skin cancer. Let me explain.
Both tigers and humans have evolved over many millions of years. Tigers have developed mechanisms to lie-in-wait for prey, hidden – their colouring adapted for maximum camouflage.
We have evolved an incredible ability to spot the ‘odd one out’ – so we can notice the tiger in the grass before it pounces on us for an unfriendly nibble.
That ‘gut instinct’ is essential for survival and is built deep, deep into our brains and bodies – an ancient, tried-and-tested, unthinking reflex.
Skin cancer is the tiger. Its only objective is to grow. Our body is just its vehicle. It, too, has adapted to be able to ‘hide in plain sight’; one spot amongst many, one blemish on a background of colourful skin.
But how many times has every skin cancer doctor heard the phrase (often from a patient covered with moles); “Look doc, I don’t know why but I just feel that this one is wrong”.
And so often – far more than chance – the patient is right. When that spot is examined, it is different (sometimes very subtly) to all the others and it is a skin cancer.
And that is life-saving intuition; picking the odd one out amongst the hundreds of normal ones.
1) Check your own skin – for a minute – every four months or so
2) If your gut says: ‘hang on a second, that one looks a bit odd’……then hang on a second and go back to check it more carefully.
3) Look for others like it. If you have a heap that are really similar to the spot in question, dial down the worry level.
If the concerning spot is a ‘lone ranger’ or there’s still something niggling about it at the back of your mind, get it checked and diagnosed by a doctor experienced in skin cancer.
The take-home messages?
- If you don’t look, you won’t find……so have a look at your skin.
- Trust your intuition…… millions of years that have gone into its development!