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May is Melanoma Awareness Month

02 May 2017

As part of Melanoma Awareness Month Dr Manjit Kaur, Consultant Dermatologist at Spire Little Aston Hospital in Sutton Coldfield gives advice on how you could spot moles on your skin.

Melanoma can appear on any area of the body – even where the skin is not normally exposed to the sun. 

Look at your skin and examine your moles regularly (1-3 monthly) as the sooner a skin cancer is detected and treated – the better your chances of cure.

Skin cancers seldom cause symptoms – however if a mole starts to itch, become painful, bleeds, gets crusty or inflamed consult your doctor.

Remember the ABCDE rule which is a common screening tool used to compare the appearance of normal moles versus melanomas. Not all melanomas fit into these rules so if in doubt see your doctor. If a mole changes in size, shape or colour, consult your doctor. 

  • 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: changes in the mole over variable time (weeks or months).

If there are any suspicious features about your mole – then your doctor will refer you to a dermatologist who is may consider removing your mole under a local anaesthetic procedure for further analysis.

What is a mole?

A mole, also known as naevus, is a benign skin lesion that can be present on any part of the skin. Most of our moles appear in childhood and they changes slightly and gradually as the child is growing up. Moles can be flat or raised. Some of them have hair growing out of them.

What is a freckle?

A freckle is a small flat brown mark that appears only on the area of the skin exposed to the sun and are often inherited. Their intensity and colour varies and depends on the amount of sun exposure. Freckles tend to be more prominent in the summer and  fade in the winter. People with fair complexion, blond or red hair have more freckles.

How can you tell the difference?

Freckles are in sun-exposed areas, and are often in multiples and look similar to each other.

What changes should you look out for?

Rapid change in size, shape, colour of mole requires a prompt check up with a doctor. Unexplained bleeding or itch from a mole also need to be checked.

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