Moles are pigmented lesions on the skin. They can be flat or raised and vary in colour from fleshy pink to black. A typical mole is benign and can be present from birth or appear a little later in life. But spots that look like moles can can develope in skin cancer such as melanoma.
When your GP examines your mole(s), they will apply the ABCDE rule:
A – Asymmetry: is the spot symmetrical or not
B – Border: is there a clearly defined border around the outside or is it irregular
C – Colour: brown, black, blue, pink, white and how even is the colour distribution
D – Diameter: Is the mole wider than 6mm and is it increasing in size
E – Evolving: the GP wants to see if the mole has been changing over a period of time
Your GP will also want to know about:
- The age of your mole(s)
- Any changes in their shape and size
- If your mole bleeds and/or has trouble healing
- If you have pain or an itch
In the case of any suspicious findings your GP may want to take a biopsy of the mole. He or she may also examine your lymph nodes. A referral to a dermatologist may also be required in this case. If the mole appears benign, then your GP may ask you to keep an eye on the mole yourself and return if there are any changes.
It is a good idea to keep a photo diary of your mole(s) and have your skin checked at least once a year. Of course if you have previously had any skin cancers, then you should have a skin check every 3 to 6 months depending on your specialist’s advice.
Finally, keep your skin safe from developing all forms of skin cancer by being Sun Safe:
- Smeer in your high spectrum sunscreen
- Put on a hat, sunglasses and clothes to cover your skin
- Seek out shade when outdoors
- Avoid tanning beds