Most campaigns about skin cancer encourage people to stay safe in the sun but efforts should also be made to raise awareness about detecting changes, the British Association of Dermatologists (BAD) said.
People should be encouraged to report any changes to their skin to their GP without delay.
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Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer and is "relatively unique" in that is is highly visible, allowing people to monitor their skin for changes themselves, the dermatologists said.
The news comes as two studies were published at the World Congress on Cancers of the Skin in Edinburgh.
The first, conducted by Barts Health NHS Trust in London, found that 40 per cent of 92 melanoma patients noticed a change in their skin at least four months before seeking professional medical advice.
BAD spokeswoman Nina Goad said: "What these studies show is that we now need to target our efforts on early detection, by encouraging people to check their skin and report anything suspicious to their GP sooner rather than later."