C – Colour: Is the colour uneven? You might see shades of black, brown and tan, or areas of white, grey, red, pink or blue
D – Diameter: Do you see a change in the size of your mole? Has it increased? Typically, melanomas are at least 6mm in diameter (which is the same size as the end of a pencil)
E – Evolving: Does the mole look different from the others and / or is changing in size, colour or shape?
“Also remember that a melanoma does not always fit the ABCDE rule, if you notice anything different, or if there is a new skin lesion, if it itches, bleeds or if you are worried about it, seek medical help,” adds Dr Susan.
What sort of help should we seek and what happens during treatment?
“Book an appointment with your GP, who if needed, will refer you to a specialist, or look into alternative services,” says Natalie.
Selected Boots stores offer a Mole Scanning Service (from £35), run by Screen Cancer UK, which is available across the country, while the Cadogan Clinic (from £250) can provide Londoners with a comprehensive mole check with a dermatologist as well as more expert options such as mole mapping and on the spot mole removal.
In both the mole will be reviewed by an expert who will advise the next steps. “If a mole is felt to be worrying it will need to be surgically removed so a more detailed assessment can be carried out,” says Dr Catherine. “This histological analysis remains the gold standard to diagnose melanoma or changes within the mole. Remember that detection of melanoma early with surgical removal can be curative.”
Is it safe to remove a mole for aesthetic reasons?
“There may be moles you don’t like the look of or moles that become inflamed after rubbing on clothing. It is safe to remove these lesions for aesthetic reasons,” says Dr Catherine. However, “they are not removed for cosmetic reasons on the NHS. If you want to remove a mole for cosmetic reasons, this would need to be done privately,” says Natalie.
What are the ways in which they can be removed?
“Moles can be surgically excised –where the mole is cut out of the skin and the skin is repaired with stitches leaving a scar in its place. If a mole is raised options include a ‘shave excision’ – which only removes the top section of the mole, leaving mole cells under the surface of the skin. It is important that any moles removed are histologically reviewed to confirm diagnosis,” says Dr Catherine. “If the mole is small, it may be removed by laser which helps to break down the pigment in the skin,” adds Natalie.
A guide to your moles: What are the different types?
“Some moles may be present from birth and we call these congenital naevi [or, birthmarks],” says Dr Catherine. Other common moles include
“Junctional naevus: these are flat moles with dark uniform pigment. The naevus cells [large pigment cells] sit at the junction of the epidermis [surface layer of skin] and dermis [the thick layer of skin directly beneath the epidermis].