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Why Should You Check Your Moles?

In summer, taking care of the skin is necessary, not just to evade the signs of aging but to protect your skin from cancer. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer and the main cause of it is the ultraviolet rays from the sun.

Article At A Glance:

  • Moles are pockets of hyper-pigmentation that can enhance the risk of skin cancer when exposed to ultraviolet (UV) rays from sun or tanning beds.
  • The emergence of new moles and the change in shape, size, color, the texture of existing ones can be the sign of a type of skin cancer known as melanoma.
  • A review study of 20,000 skin cancer incidents demonstrated that 71% of skin cancers were developed from new moles while 29% were from preexisting moles.
  • The ABCDE checklist involves the asymmetry, border, color, diameter, and evolution of moles. It’s the best method to detect the warning signs of melanoma early on.
  • Evaluate your moles yourself once a month and get a full mole mapping every 6-12 months.
  • If you find any irregular moles, you should go to a professional dermatologist to do your mole check as a new research study claims that not all medical professionals are equally able to assess benign and dangerous moles.

 

In summer, taking care of the skin is necessary, not just to evade the signs of ageing but to protect your skin from cancer. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer and the main cause of it is the ultraviolet rays from the sun.

Skin safety from the sun is the most important thing during the summer months but you’ve got to avoid these harmful rays all year long. Healthy skin care plans involve keeping an eye on unusual mole growth, getting frequent checkups, and finding the right expert.

Why Should You Check Your Moles?

Most of us have few moles on our bodies and for the most part, they are completely harmless. However, some moles are more dangerous than others, enhancing the risk of skin cancer when exposed to the sun. Therefore it’s important to check the size, shape, colour and texture, and emergence of new moles that can be a sign of a type of skin cancer known as melanoma.

A review study of 20,000 incidents of skin cancer concluded that 71% of these skin cancers were developed from new moles on the patient’s skin while 29% were from preexisting moles (1).

Early detection is key, the sooner your melanoma will be diagnosed, the better your prognosis is likely to be and more chances to save your life.

What Is Melanoma?

Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer, which emerges in the cells that produce melanin (the pigment that gives your skin its colour). It can develop anywhere in your body but most often it emerges in areas that have had exposure to the sun.

Risk Factors of Melanoma

UV rays damage the DNA in your skin cells that control their normal growth.

Having many and atypical moles enhances melanoma risk. Atypical moles are larger and have abnormal shape and color.

Fair skin that freckles or burns easily are at enhanced risk.

Around 10% of all individuals diagnosed with melanoma have a family history of this cancer.

The immune system helps fight cancers. People with certain diseases or who are on immune suppressant medication such as those who have had an organ transplant have weak immune systems, thus are at increased risk of melanoma.

Melanoma is more likely to arise in older individuals.

Before the age of 50, the risk of melanoma is higher in women; after the age of 50, this risk is higher in men.

What To Look For When Checking A Mole?

The ABCDE method, as demonstrated by the NHS, is the best way to check your moles and detect the warning signs of melanoma early on (2).

Normal MolesCancerous Moles
AAsymmetryRound and asymmetrical in shapeAn irregular shape, such as two very different-looking halves
BBorderMoles with even borders, meaning edges are even and form an oval or circle shapeEdges are uneven and jagged in appearance.
CColourUniform color, usually the shade of brownA mole with a blotchy appearance having two or three shades of brown, black, red, or pink color.
DDiameterSmaller than 6 millimeters in diameter, the size of a pencil eraserMore than 6 millimeters in diameter
EEvolutionDon’t change in size shape or colorA mole that getting bigger, changing shape, or getting darker.



Remember that cancerous moles greatly vary in appearance. Some may show all the above-listed changes while others have only one or two unusual characteristics.

 

What To Do If Your Moles Are Irregular?

Any changes to your skin can be a concern particularly changing shape, growing in size, developing new colours of moles as well as itching, pain, and redness around their edges.

Here are mole and skin monitoring tips:

Check Your Moles

  • Over time, you get to identify the kinds of moles you have. Moreover, you’ll be more likely to notice moles that look different from others.
  • The mole that has changed in appearance or that is new and doesn’t fit in well with others needs to be evaluated.
  • The mole on areas that are not always visible such as soles of your feet, buttock, or back also needs to be evaluated.

Mole Mapping

Our full-body mole mapping is the only service available that will map all your moles from all over your body.

The mole mapping service is run by trained dermatology nurses and your skin will be reviewed by a Consultant Dermatologist. Following the appointment, you will get a report from the dermatologist identifying moles of concern (if any), with recommendations for follow-up.  You can choose to continue your care at Derma or take the report to your GP for follow-up on the NHS.

As for the frequency of follow-up, this will normally be between three months and a year, as advised by the Consultant Dermatologist based on your risk factors and the results of the mole mapping. The subsequent follow-ups are when the mole mapping technology excels, as this will identify all new or changed moles, allowing skin cancers to be detected at an early stage.

Talk With Your Dermatologist

Please keep in mind that if you’ve got a larger or irregular mole, it does not mean that you have skin cancer.

MATTER OF CONCERN

You should always consult a professional dermatologist to do your mole check as a new research study claims that not all medical professionals are equally able to assess benign and dangerous moles (3). It means that whoever does your skincare checks is also key for early detection of melanomas.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, melanoma is the fastest-growing cancer in the UK (4).

We would recommend between three months and a year, as advised by the Consultant Dermatologist based on your risk factors and the results of the mole mapping. You should check your skin yourself once a month (5).

At Derma Reading, the costs for this service are:

  • £295 for the initial mole mapping
  • £245 for subsequent mappings

Alternatively, you can have an initial consultation with a Consultant Dermatologist to check over your moles. If you want a mole mapping following your consultation this is offered at a reduced price of £150.

A mole should only be removed if there was high suspicion on the scan that this was a melanoma. The mole removal should be done by the right dermatologist or plastic surgeon.


  1. Pampena, R., Kyrgidis, A., Lallas, A., Moscarella, E., Argenziano, G., & Longo, C. (2017). A meta-analysis of nevus-associated melanoma: Prevalence and practical implications.Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 77(5), 938-945.
  2. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/melanoma-skin-cancer/symptoms/
  3. Anderson, A. M., Matsumoto, M., Saul, M. I., Secrest, A. M., & Ferris, L. K. (2018). Accuracy of skin cancer diagnosis by physician assistants compared with dermatologists in a large health care system. JAMA dermatology, 154(5), 569-573.
  4. https://www.thehandbook.com/leaving.php?uid=ff7f716ac3c6bd9ea449adb759833a29
  5. https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/skin-cancer/find/check-skin

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