If you have lots of moles, you probably already know the importance of checking them for changes and abnormalities, especially if your skin has been exposed to the sun. But do you know exactly what it is you’re looking for?
What to look out for during a mole check
When performing a mole check, look for specific changes in the appearance and texture of the mole. Following the ABCDE technique, as recommended by the NHS, this is a useful way to remember exactly what to look for.
Does one half of the mole mirror the other half, or is each side a different shape?
A healthy mole is usually round and symmetrical in shape. An asymmetrical mole (i.e. a mole that is NOT symmetrical) could be a sign of melanoma.
Is the outside edge of the mole uneven or jagged in appearance?
Melanomas tend to have an uneven or irregular edge, whereas a normal, healthy mole is more likely to have a smooth, even edge.
Is the mole an uneven colour?
A normal, healthy mole is usually fairly uniform in colour. A melanoma may have two or three shades of brown, black, red or pink, giving the mole a blotchy appearance.
Is the mole larger than 6mm across?
A melanoma is usually larger than 6mm in diameter, but this is not a definite sign of a cancerous mole; it may be smaller.
Has the mole changed colour or shape?
A melanoma may ‘evolve’ or change in shape, colour, size and texture over time, becoming more raised above the surface of the skin. The actual mole itself may still look normal, but the area underneath and surrounding it could be inflamed or swollen.
Moles that itch and bleed
If your mole is itchy, crusty, or bleeds without being cut or touched, it could be malignant and should be evaluated by a doctor.
Regular skin checks
Examine your skin and moles on a regular basis, especially if you are frequently exposed to the sun, as this dramatically increases your risk of skin cancer. Remember to inspect regions like the soles of your feet, buttocks, and back that aren’t often visible.
For any moles or other skin lesions that need removal – our expert surgeons can help with that too!
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