16 May 2019
We are all guilty of it…even professionals will admit they’ve not done it.
What is it?
Not applying sunscreen to exposed skin before we’ve gone outside during the day, as the temperatures rise and we move into our summer wardrobe. But did you know that getting painful sunburn just once every two years can triple your risk of melanoma skin cancer?
If your profession means you spend a lot of time outside it’s advisable to make the application of sunscreen part of your daily routine, just as you would deodorant, and to encourage loved ones to do so - skin cancer affects more men than it does women, with the reasoning being that more men are employed in roles involving outside work. By protecting yourself with a combination of clothing, shade and sunscreen, you could be saving your life.
Different types of skin cancer present different skin cancer symptoms but it’s important to remember that, whatever the type, early detection is important. Being familiar with your skin and in particular, the look and feel of any moles you have helps in the early identification of the symptoms of skin cancer. Having a lot of moles, something that often runs in families increases the risk of melanoma, and if they are quite large i.e. greater than 5mm diameter, you should see a dermatologist to assess your risk on a regular basis. The NHS and NICE guidelines recommend having your moles checked by an expert every six months – at a minimum. If you’ve had a mole removed, it’s every three months. This is particularly important if there is a family history of melanoma or you are over 60.
If you don’t know what to look for, with respect to your skin, there is a simple set of ABCDE rules for moles, which you can follow:
- Asymmetry: the two halves of your mole do not look the same
- Border: the edges of your mole are irregular, blurred or jagged
- Colour: the colour of your mole is uneven, with more than one shade
- Diameter: your mole is wider than 6 mm in diameter (the size of a pencil eraser)
- Evolving: Is the mole changing shape, colour or size and if so how quickly has this change occurred.
A mole can change appearance quickly – over a few weeks or months - so you should check your skin on a regular basis, for new moles or changes to existing ones. Even if they are harmless moles can be irritating and catch on clothing and jewellery so if they are becoming a nuisance having them removed can mean one less daily irritation.
If you notice two or more items in the above list you should make an appointment to see your GP. However, if you have either been to your GP, or have seen a dermatologist, who has confirmed that there is nothing suspicious about the lesions, and they are no bigger than a 2p piece, our one-stop mole clinic can help if you would like them removed. Removing a mole is a simple and quick procedure, carried out under a local anaesthetic.
We also have a general mole screening clinic, ideal for those who have a large number of moles and would just like a general assessment, for peace of mind. The assessment is carried out by a specialist nurse who can record the size and placement of your moles, for future reference, and provide advice if you would like any removed.
You can also book an appointment with a Dermatologist if, for instance, you have been to your GP and been told that a lesion is suspicious or if you are just generally concerned about a lesion or lesions you've become aware of. Find out more about our Consultant Dermatologists.