Approximately 13,500 people are diagnosed with some form of skin cancer in the UK each year. You may be more at risk if you have fair features and/or freckles; have previously been sunburnt; regularly use sunbeds; or have a large number of moles.
If caught early, cancer of this type can very often be treated simply and effectively. It is therefore important to check moles regularly if you fall into the afore-mentioned groups or if you fall into a high risk group such as those with a family history of cancer. The most important indications are as follows:
1. Changes in size
Look out for a variation in the size of your moles. They may have become larger or formerly flat moles may have become raised.
2. Changes in Colour
A mole that was previously all one colour may change to exhibit several different colours or may have become much darker in appearance.
3. Changes in shape
In some cases, moles may become asymmetrical or they may have an irregular shape along the edge. They may have a patchy appearance, feel itchy or appear crusty.
If you notice any of the above changes, have your mole checked by a doctor. If they believe that you may have abnormal or cancerous cells, they will refer you to a dermatologist who will arrange a biopsy in which the mole is removed and sent away for testing.
Even if a mole is benign, you may still wish to have it removed as many people can be rather self-conscious about the appearance of a mole, particularly if it is on the face or can be seen when wearing a bathing costume. Unfortunately cosmetic removal of moles is not generally available on the NHS so you would need to book your mole removal at a private clinic such as The London Cosmetic Clinic.
By no means all moles that have changed in appearance are cancerous. For example, they can darken during pregnancy, during the teen years and after exposure to sunlight, but it is always wise to check them regularly and to see your GP if you have any concerns.
There is no sure way to prevent Melanoma and other skin cancers but you can reduce the risk by avoiding prolonged sun exposure and always using a sunscreen.