Most people have moles and some of us have many moles. If you have a very fair skin and tend to burn easily in the sun, you need to be particularly aware of your moles so that you can spot any abnormal ones early. It is rare for a mole to become cancerous but early treatment for one that does is very effective.
Checking your own moles
We should all check our moles on a regular basis, around once a month. Just looking at the skin to see if any moles have changed is all that most people need to do. You will need someone else to check the moles on your back but this can be a partner, relative or friend.
Features of moles to look out for
If you notice the following you should request referral to a Consultant Dermatologist:
- A mole becomes significantly larger over a few weeks
- You notice that a mole has turned a different colour, or has become multi-coloured
- One or your mole changes shape and starts to look irregular
- You have a mole that is larger than 7mm in diameter
- One of your moles starts to feel sore or looks red
- You have a mole that bleeds or weeps fluid
- You have a mole that becomes painful or very itchy
In our London, Harley Street clinic Our Consultant Dermatologists can undertake mole screening to check your moles and immediately start the process of diagnosis to either confirm or rule out malignant melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer.
Regular professional mole checks
If you have been diagnosed with malignant melanoma previously and treated successfully, or this type of skin cancer runs in your family, you may want to opt for regular mole screening. Similarly, if you have multiple moles and find it difficult to monitor them mole screening is worth considering.
Our Consultant Dermatologists offer mole screening using digital technology. A series of digital photographs of all the moles on your skin is taken and archived and then subsequent photographs taken every six months or 12 months can be compared with this baseline to identify any moles that change size or appearance.
Digital mole mapping is complemented by a thorough physical examination of your skin using dermoscopy to focus on individual moles.
Reducing your risk of malignant melanoma
Like all skin cancers, malignant melanoma risk is increased by exposure to ultraviolet light, particularly if this leads to sunburn or heavy tanning.
If you have many moles, have a fair skin and burn easily, use a high factor sunscreen in the sun and cover up in the hottest part of the day. Be particularly careful when near water or when in snow; the reflection from the water or the snow concentrates the UV light, making it more likely that your skin will be damaged.
Avoid sunbeds as these have been shown to increase the risk of all forms of skin cancer.