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Detect the early warning signs – checking moles can save lives

28 November 2018

No matter how safe you’ve been all summer with protecting your skin, it’s still important to continue being vigilant the rest of the year. It is advised that you check your skin at least one a month, from head to toe, looking for any suspicious lesions or moles. Recognising the early signs of melanoma is vital as the earlier the diagnosis, the better the prognosis and melanoma treated early has a five year survival rate of over 98 percent. Here we describe the best methods used to identify suspicious moles:

A common acronym used by dermatologists is ABCDE:

Asymmetry – If you draw a line through the middle of your mole and the halves don’t match, this asymmetry may be a sign of melanoma.

Border – Ragged, notched, blurred or irregular edges are all warning signs.

Colour – Look out for moles that contain several different shades of brown, tan or black, or they may be red, white or blue.

Diameter – Malignant moles are bigger in diameter, if it’s larger than 6 millimeters across, get it checked.

Evolving – Changes in size, shape, colour, elevation or other characteristics are another warning sign.

However, not all melanomas fit neatly into these categories so there are a few other factors to take note of. If any occur see a doctor immediately.

  • A sore that does not heal
  • Redness or new swelling
  • Spread of pigment
  • If it becomes itchy, tender or painful
  • If there is a change in the surface: oozing, bleeding, the appearance of a bump or lump

Searching for Ugly Ducklings

If the ABCDE acronym seems complicated, there is a simpler way to identify a suspicious mole: ask yourself whether it’s an ‘ugly duckling’ that looks different from all the other moles around it. It may be a small red mole surrounded by bigger brown moles, or it may be larger and darker than the others. For someone who has few moles, any change in a spot or growth makes an ugly duckling and a trip to the doctors.

Take note of how your skin normally looks as this will make it easier when it comes to noticing changes. Remember, checking your moles could save your life.

If you have any concerns we have a team of dermatologists here at Spire Harpenden Hospital who are on hand to help you. Give us a call today to book an appointment: 01582 714 420.

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