Many people will most likely have moles somewhere on their body. For the most part, these are completely harmless and do not pose any kind of threat to your health. However, Its recommended by the NHS that you check up on your moles every few months as a preventative measure. But, what is it that we are actually looking for and why? This guide will hopefully help you understand how to identify potentially hazardous moles and the importance of getting them checked.
Who should be checking their moles?
The answer to this is – everyone. You should be keeping an eye on your moles at least every three months to monitor any visible changes in appearance or in how they feel. In the instance that you have developed ‘new’ moles you should be monitoring them every month. Plus, if you have a known history of melanoma in your family checking your moles more frequently should be a consideration for you.
How to identify them?
You should be looking out for moles that don’t appear to be very similar to other moles you may have on your body. The term for these kinds of moles are ‘dysplastic moles.’ the traits of moles that are considered suspicious include moles that appear larger than others, have smudged or uneven sides, irregular colours or a pink tint. If you have visibly noticed that a mole has changed in colour or has started to feel uncomfortable or itchy, you must see a GP immediately. A good system for examining your moles and recommended by health practitioners is known as the ‘ABCDE’ system which goes as follows:
- Asymmetry – are both sides of the mole uneven?
- Border – the edges of the mole appear smudged or ragged?
- Colour – the mole appears to have different colours such as blue or red?
- Diameter – is the diameter of the mole larger than the end of a pencil?
- Evolving – is the mole is changing in size?
The letter ‘E’ holds particular importance as if a mole is changing in size – this could potentially be a sign of Melanoma.
Who is at risk?
Malignant melanoma is the fifth most common cancer in the UK – with an estimate of around 13,300 people being diagnosed. Early diagnosis is the key to being treated effectively. Skin cancer can affect anyone, however, there are certain risk factors that put you in a higher risk bracket. These include: having skin that burns easily, a history of frequent sunburn as a child, and being a part of a family with a history of skin cancer.
If you feel that much of the above applies to you, it’s certainly recommended that you get yourself checked out. At Duality Healthcare, we can help you spot a potential problem – and the earlier you catch it – we can organise the necessary treatment. At our private clinics we have the expertise and knowledge to detect any significant mole changes that may require further investigating. We offer unprecedented access from our clinics in Newry and Dungannon, delivering high-quality General Practice. Please get in touch, you can book an appointment online or give us a call.