Remove concerns about suspicious moles with our expert Mole Screening service
- Advanced mole screening techniques
- In-depth testing and analysis
- Treatment by highly qualified and experienced Consultant Dermatologists if required
Check your moles this summer
We should all be checking our moles at least once a month but during the summer this routine becomes even more important. Our skin is more exposed to UV rays and this increases the risk of cancerous moles developing.
However, this doesn’t just mean the appearance of new moles, as existing moles can also change as a result of their interaction with sunlight. Identifying a problem with a mole in the early stages will reduce the chances of melanoma developing and potentially spreading to other parts of the body.
Do you need a mole to be screened?
The danger signs to look out for include:
- When two halves of the mole look irregular or do not match each other
- If you notice the edges are blurred or notched
- If there is colour variation across the mole, which may look black or brown, sometimes featuring bits of red, white, blue or pink
- When the diameter of the mole exceeds 6mm (roughly ¼ inch) – although melanomas can sometimes be smaller
- If either the shape, size or colour of the mole appears to be changing
- You experience bleeding, weeping fluid from the mole, or it becomes painful or very itchy
Our mole screening services
At The Devonshire Clinic our Dermatologists are all experts in assessing moles. They will carefully examine your skin and utilise Dermoscopy to assess each mole in detail. In certain situations, your specialist will arrange for you to undergo digital mole mapping. This involves taking a number of digital images of all the moles on your skin which are then put into storage. Every 6-12 months new photographs are taken and compared with historic images.
Suspected melanomas are identified by observing differences in your existing moles, using the ABCDE system of comparison, or new moles that suddenly appear. If a mole is suspected of being cancerous, the diagnosis will be checked by taking a biopsy, in which some or all of the mole is removed and examined under a microscope to see if it contains cancer cells.
There are three types of skin cancer which all have a different appearance. The following ABCD-guide shows you how changes in mole shape might indicate a ‘melanoma’.
Asymmetry – the two halves of the area may differ in shape
Border – the edges of the area may be irregular or blurred, and sometimes show notches
Colour – this may be uneven. Different shades of black, brown and pink may be seen
Diameter – most melanomas are at least 6mm in diameter. Report any change in size, shape or diameter to your doctor
Expert – if in doubt, check it out! If your GP is concerned about your skin, make sure you see a Consultant Dermatologist, the most expert person to diagnose a skin cancer. Your GP can refer you via the NHS
It is important to remember that melanoma is a rare condition, and most moles that are biopsied will come up negative for cancer, however it is always best to have these moles checked to be sure.
Removing a suspicious mole
We use two safe methods to remove potentially cancerous moles:
Excision biopsy: This is the most common type of procedure that involves the removal of the entire mole using a scalpel along with the underlying tissue surrounding it. The wound is closed with stiches and will leave a scar. The removed tissue is then examined for cancerous cells.
Shave excision: A ‘shave’ procedure can be used to remove some raised moles. This will not require stitches and will not usually leave a significant scar on the skin.
Protecting your skin this summer
Here are three ways to give your skin maximum protection:
Protective clothing: Dark and brighter colours absorb more UV rays compared to paler shades. Thicker fabrics, such as canvas and denim, offer more protection than loosely woven material. Loose fitting clothing is a better choice than tighter garments, as they are less likely to stretch and expose skin to the sun.
Sunglasses: Sand can reflect up to 15% of UV light, water 10% and sea foam 25%. This means UV radiation comes into contact with our skin and eyes twice, doubling the exposure levels. Polarised lensed sunglasses reduce glare, but make sure to choose a pair that guarantees 99-100% UV filtering.
Sunscreen: Applying sunscreen will only be effective when enough is used. Follow the instructions and apply at least 30 minutes before heading out into the sun. An SPF of 30 or higher is recommended if outdoors for long periods of time. If you perspire, come into contact with water or towel, the sunscreen must be reapplied.
Even if the temperature is not very high, always put on sunscreen before going outdoors as the strength of UV rays are often deceiving. Sunburn may seem like a short-term problem that can be soothed and repaired but it is a sign of damage to DNA in your skin and can potentially lead to skin cancer. Children who have experienced severe sunburn face a higher risk of developing melanoma later in life, so their skin must be protected at all times.