Ask the expert: Melanoma

13 May 2019

Melanoma is the most deadly form of skin cancer. It can appear as a new mole or an existing mole that changes in size, shape or colour - left untreated it can spread to other parts of the body.

As part of Skin Cancer Awareness month, Dr Alex Holme, Consultant Dermatologist at Spire Edinburgh Hospitals has given advice on how you could spot hazardous moles on your skin.

Melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, occurs most commonly in fair-skinned people who tan poorly but can develop in people with any skin type. There is also an increased risk in those who have lived abroad, had severe sunburn particularly in childhood, and in those with a family history.

If you are concerned about any changing moles, you should tell your GP as soon as possible; if they are concerned, you will be referred to a Consultant Dermatologist, the most expert person to diagnose skin cancer.

It is crucial for a melanoma to be removed as early as possible – before it has time to spread deep into the skin or around the body. This is why anyone with a suspicious mole or blemish should see their doctor as soon as possible. Particular features to be aware of are the ABCDE signs:

  • Asymmetry: when one half of the mole doesn’t match the other
  • Border: when the borders are irregular, ragged or blurred
  • Colour: when the colour changes or varies throughout and/or there appears to be no uniform pigmentation
  • Diameter: when the diameter is greater than 6mm (but could be smaller)
  • Evolving: changing or evolving of the mole over variable time: weeks, months or years

To prevent melanoma, everyone should practice sun protection between the months of April and September and whenever abroad using sunscreen, clothing and minimising exposure between 11am and 3pm, when the sun’s rays are strongest.

If you have any concerns about your moles, call us on 0131 316 2507 to find out how our dermatologists could help.

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