Moles: what to look out for and when to worry

28th June 2021

After a long winter being stuck inside, we’re all keen to get out and about in the sunshine. But whether you’re a sun worshipper or sticking to the shade, make protecting yourself from skin cancer by regularly checking your moles a priority this summer. And if you’re concerned about anything, come and see us. For now though: the what, when and how of mole checking.

What are the different types of skin cancer?

There are two main types of skin cancer: non melanoma skin cancer and melanoma skin cancer.

Non melanoma skin cancer includes basal cell skin cancer, squamous cell skin cancers and other rare types, whereas melanoma is a type of skin cancer that starts in melanocyte skin cells.

The most common sign of a melanoma is the appearance of a new mole or a change in appearance of an existing mole. Melanoma cancers are less common that non melanoma cancers but are more dangerous. Here’s what to look out for.

Check your moles using the ABCDE test

Checking your moles can feel overwhelming, especially if you have a lot of them. Use this easy method about once a month to give your whole body a good check over. It can be useful to have a partner help out, and to take photos of any moles you’re concerned about.

A – asymmetrical

Normal healthy moles usually have a very even shape where the two halves are symmetrical whereas melanomas are often asymmetrical.

B – border

Melanomas are more likely to have uneven, blurred, or jagged edges than normal moles.

C – colour

Whereas normal moles are usually just one consistent colour, melanomas can contain more than one shade, including black, brown, and pink.

D – diameter

Normal moles are about the size of the end of a pencil or even smaller. Melanomas are usually more than 6mm wide.

E – evolving

Our top tip is to take photos of any moles you’re concerned about. Melanomas tend to change size, shape, and colour. Having photos means you can check back and see how things have developed.

But remember, if you have a mole you’re concerned about, don’t wait to see how much it changes over a long period of time. Come and see us as soon as you notice anything odd.

 Watch out for other changes to your moles

There are a few other important symptoms to keep an eye out for. Book an appointment if a mole is itchy, painful, inflamed, growing, bleeding or becoming crusty.

New or changed moles can appear anywhere on the body. But it can be useful to bear in mind that men are most affected on their backs, whereas women are most affected on their legs.

 Skin cancer can be scary. But did you know that skin cancer is one of the most preventable types of cancer? Although not always preventable, you can hugely reduce your chances by watching your moles carefully and avoiding getting sunburned.

And remember, the earlier a melanoma is identified, the easier it is to treat, so book an appointment as soon as you spot something that doesn’t seem right.