With skin cancer on the rise in the UK, we ask a screening nurse exactly what to look for.

Skin cancer is becoming much more common in the UK and is now the fifthh most common cancer overall in the country. To help you know what to look out for when checking your skin and moles, we asked Lead Screening Nurse at The MOLE Clinic, Laura Harker RN, to share five tips and things to look out for when doing a mole check at home.

Be Prepared

When it comes to checking our moles, something we should be doing regularly, the process is made a lot easier if you’re prepared for the task ahead. Have a handheld mirror readily available to help in checking those difficult areas such as your back. It’s also good to make sure you are in a room with good light. You don’t want to be struggling to see what you’re doing. Lastly, if needed, don’t be afraid to ask your husband, wife, partner or a friend to help. They can take a picture of your back for you to then check with ease.

Look For Changes In Shape, Colour And Size

A normal, healthy mole will appear much like all our other moles. When doing a mole check, we need to be looking for any moles that have changed or have an unusual shape. They may have irregular edges or, being asymmetrical, have more than one colour with various shades of black, pink and brown. Or they may have grown in size.

Familiarise Yourself With The ‘Ugly Duckling’

A term often used by doctors and specialists for an unusual or changing mole, an ‘ugly duckling’ is a mole which is easily identifiable as being different from all other moles and skin lesions. When checking for an ugly duckling, you want to look for moles that are visibly different to all others or have the tendency to scab, ooze or bleed. These are big red flags and should be an immediate sign to speak to your GP.

Follow The ABCDE Rule

A simple way to make sure you’re checking your moles and skin lesions as best as you can is to follow the ‘ABCDE’ rule.

Is your mole asymmetrical in shape, with one side of the mole unlike the other?

Does your mole have a poorly defined, jagged or scalloped border?

Colour & Comparison
Is there more than one colour in your mole and does it look different to all your other moles?

Is your mole bigger than 7mm in diameter (the size of the end of a pencil)? Do note, however, that skin cancer can start much smaller than this.

Is your mole evolving and changing shape, size or colour?

If you can answer yes to any of the above questions, you must book an appointment with your GP or skin specialist, such as The MOLE Clinic, to have the mole in question checked professionally. Caught in the early stages skin cancer is easily treated, and individuals can make a full and healthy recovery. However, if ignored and caught too late, it can be fatal.

Check Everywhere

Moles can appear anywhere on your body. Therefore, it’s important to check between toes, behind ears and be thorough. A cancerous mole can also be found anywhere on the body but are most common on the back for men and the legs for women.

MOLE Clinic® is the UK’s leading skin cancer screening specialist. In line with its mole screening mission, it is launching skin cancer screening services in London and across the UK. For more information about The MOLE Clinic and its skin cancer screening services, visit the website here.

By Laura Harker
February 2022

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