HOW TO CHECK FOR ABNORMAL MOLES

Pick a room with good lighting and remove all your clothes. Start at your head and work your way down your body. Check all areas of skin thoroughly, including your scalp, behind your ears, round your nose, between your fingers and toes and – not forgetting the great divide – your bottom! Ask a trusted friend to help you check areas that you can’t see, or use a mirror.

The ‘ABCDE’ of moles, used by the NHS and other health bodies, classifies types to look out for:

• Asymmetrical: Normal moles are round and grow evenly. Melanomas expand at an uneven rate and are therefore asymmetrical.

• Borders: Unhealthy moles are prone to have ragged or blurred borders. Standard moles are rounder with clearly defined borders.

• Colour change: A normal mole is the same colour throughout. A melanoma can vary in colour.

If a mole becomes darker in colour this is a sign that it is possibly cancerous.

• Diameter: Problem moles are usually larger than 6 millimetres but this is not a definite sign. Sizes of cancerous and normal moles can vary. Look for any changes in size.

• Elevation or enlargement: Moles that become raised, inflamed or swollen need to be professionally checked, as well as those that start to bleed, crust or itch.

Check any suspicious mole with your GP, who can refer you to a dermatologist if they think specialist treatment is required.

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