How To Do Monthly Mole Checks

How To Do Monthly Mole Checks - By Dr Susan Mayou

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in the UK with over 100,000 new diagnoses each year and 2,500 deaths annually.

As skin cancer rates continue to rise at a rapid rate, it's important individuals check their moles regularly to spot changes and symptoms of skin cancer.

The Cadogan Clinic is London's most comprehensive centre for the diagnosis and treatment of skin cancer. Our team is made up of industry-leading experts who are highly skilled in skin cancer detection and treatment. We actively encourage consumers to check their moles at home on a monthly basis in order to detect skin cancer at the earliest possible stage.

Early detection is imperative to curing skin cancer. A person with a melanoma of less than 0.75mm thick can expect to have a 95% cure rate, but with a melanoma greater than 4mm thick, this falls to as low as 25%. By checking your moles on a monthly basis in addition to annual mole checks with a dermatologist, you will be more familiar with your skin and be better equipped to identify subtle changes to moles.

Melanomas can develop between visits to your dermatologist, so it's important to take control of your health and be vigilant with regular self-examinations.

Below are tips for checking moles at home:

The Tool Kit:

  • Full length mirror in a room
  • Room with good lighting
  • Hand mirror for hard to see places
  • Ruler
  • Camera

Process

  • Remove all clothes so you are completely naked 
  • Start with your head (use a hair dryer to separate hair to view scalp properly) and look at each mole closely, using the hand mirror for any difficult places 
  • Start from left to right and scan the body, all the way down, looking closely at each mole, using the ABCDE rule
  • Use your ruler to record the size of moles that may be cause for concern
  • Photograph moles that may require special attention, this will make it easier to refer back to and monitor – date them and save them in a folder for easy monitoring
  • Don’t forget to check the back of your legs and neck, fingers, hands and the bottom of your feet and toes. Bob Marley died from a melanoma under his toenail, so don’t forget to check under your fingernails and toenails too!

The ABCDE rule to monitor moles at home

  • A – Asymmetry. Where one half of the mole does not match the other
  • B – Border. Check the outline of your mole – a melanoma may have edges that are ragged, notched, blurred or irregular, plus the pigment may have spread into surrounding skin.
  • 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 – (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?

It is important to remember that a melanoma may not always fit the ABCDE rule so if you notice anything different, or if there is a new skin lesion, itching, bleeding or any signs that are a cause for concern, seek medical help – it's much better to be safe and catch it at the very earliest stage.

In addition to monthly mole checking at home, I advise seeking professional advice if you notice one or more of the following symptoms on your moles:

  • It has changed/is changing colour
  • It has changed/is changing shape and size 
  • It is inflamed, itchy or painful
  • It has changed from flat to protruding