There are many ways that you can reduce your risk of skin cancer.
+ Limit your exposure to UV radiation + Use broad-spectrum sunblock when exposed to the sun. Broad spectrum will help protect against both UVA and UVB rays + Use a minimum of SPF 30 in your sunblock, ensure the UVA protection is adequate as denoted by UVA and apply thickly and frequently + Avoid the use of sunbeds (Using sunbeds for the first time below the age of 35 increases the risk of developing melanoma by nearly 60% + Perform a monthly skin self-examination looking for ABCDE of moles
ABCDE Checklist for suspicious features:
+ Asymmetry: Moles that are an irregular shape and have two different halves. + Border: Moles with a ragged border. + Colours: Moles that have a mix of two or more colours. + Diameter: Moles that are larger than 6mm (1/4 inch) diameter. + Evolution: A mole which has changed in size or shape over time.
When performing your monthly skin checks ensure you are doing it after a bath or shower, in a well-lit room, with the aid of a full-length mirror looking for any changes in moles thoroughly.
You can also self-assess yourself for risk of melanoma. The Melanoma Risk Factor Assessment checklist can tell you if you would benefit from a mole check by a dermatologist, or from more regular self-examinations.
The Melanoma Risk Factor Assessment:
+ Have you ever been sunburnt badly? + Does your skin burn first and then tan? Do you tan at all? + Do you have any outdoor hobbies? + Have you ever used sunbeds? + Have you ever lived anywhere abroad that was very hot/sunny? + Have you ever had a job where you worked outdoors? + Has anyone in your family ever had melanoma? + Do you wear sunblock when exposed to the sun?
If you notice any changes to a mole or a patch of skin, it is important to seek the advice of your GP or a dermatologist as soon as possible. If your regular GP has any concerns about the changes in your moles, they will refer you to a consultant dermatologist for further examination.
A dermatologist will perform a full skin examination to check all of your moles. If the dermatologist has any concerns about any unusual moles or patches of skin, they will either go on to remove (excise) the mole or take a sample of a suspicious patch of skin (biopsy) to send in for analysis.
It is important to note that not all changes to moles are the results of skin cancer. It is normal for moles to change in size, number or appearance over time, even some disappearing entirely. Hormonal changes, like those that occur with puberty or pregnancy, can also cause moles to increase in number or to become darker.
Moles are small clusters of coloured skin cells, which can form anywhere on the human body. Moles are usually harmless and people can live with them without any complications. However, moles can be cancerous, so if a mole looks suspicious it must be removed for immediate examination under a microscope (histology), to eliminate the risk of it developing further.
Mohs surgery, also known as chemosurgery, was created in 1938 by the American physician and general surgeon Dr Frederic E Mohs. The procedure is a microscopically-controlled surgery designed to treat common types of skin cancer. Mohs surgery allows for the removal of skin cancer with a very narrow surgical margin, which means there are very few tumour-free cells surrounding the cancer removed along with the affected cells.
What should I do if I have a bleeding or itchy mole?
Bleeding or itchy moles can occur when they have been irritated or scratched – moles catching on clothing, being cut by a razor, makeup application, scratching an insect bite and hair removal are all very common triggers.