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Know what to look out for in your moles

Dermatology treatment at Benenden Hospital

Each and every one of us has at some point noticed a mole (or as they are known pigmented lesion). Moles come in all different colours and sizes on our bodies and face.

Every year about 2,300 people die from melanoma in the UK, but Cancer Research UK, said about 86% of cases were preventable.

A recent BBC news online article has revealed skin cancer specialists raising their concerns that the pandemic has led to few people being treated after a drop in the number of melanoma diagnoses.

Below is some advice on checking your moles and what to do if your mole has changed appearance:

What does a normal mole look like?

Moles are usually circular or oval with a smooth edge and they may have hair growing from them. They can change in number and appearance and can often fade away over time.

There are some, however, that can change over time, and if you notice these changes, it can be a very worrying time. It’s important to know what changes to look out for and to know when you should see your GP.

How to check your mole

Normal moles are generally round or oval, with a smooth edge, and usually no bigger than 6mm in diameter. But size is not a sure sign of melanoma. A healthy mole can be larger than 6mm in diameter, and a cancerous mole can be smaller than this.

See your GP as soon as possible if you notice changes in a mole, freckle or patch of skin, particularly if the changes happen over a few weeks or months.

How are moles diagnosed?

If any skin lesion or mole is causing you concern for medical reasons, you’ll need to ask your GP to examine it in order to rule out any risks that it may be cancerous. Sometimes the only way to diagnose certain skin conditions is with an excision of a lesion for diagnostic purposes (skin biopsy).

When should I see my GP about a mole?

Although most moles are harmless, it’s important to get your doctor to look at any mole or skin lesion that:

  • Doesn't heal after four weeks
  • Gets bigger or changes shape or colour
  • Has an irregular edge
  • Is patchy in colour or is multi-shaded/ has more than one colour
  • Itches, bleeds or is crusty and scabbed for more than four weeks

Why would I have a mole removed?

While most moles are completely harmless, they may be unsightly, which can affect your confidence, or they can be a nuisance. For example, if you regularly cut them while shaving or if they catch on your clothing.

If this is the case, you may want to have the mole removed. As this type of cosmetic surgery isn’t routinely provided on the NHS, you can contact us directly to arrange treatment.

If your GP has concerns about a mole, they can refer you to our Consultant Dermatologists to establish whether they’re malignant (cancerous) or benign (non-cancerous). If a mole is diagnosed as malignant it would need to be removed and examined in a laboratory to ensure that it’s all been removed.

Accessing private dermatology treatment

Moles, skin lesions, acne and other skin conditions can be worrying and can also affect your confidence, so it’s important that you seek advice from a Dermatologist.

At Benenden Hospital our private dermatology consultation and diagnostic service offers quick access to an initial consultation and diagnostics led by our expert Dermatologists.

Our skin specialists are highly experienced and can talk through your concerns or questions. We’ll also make sure you have all the information you need on the what, who, when, and where of your procedure.

About our mole scanning service

Our mole scanning service provides you with an assessment of moles and pigmented lesions that you are worried about and can help to identify any that might be suspicious. Book online or contact our Private Patient team via Livechat or on 01580 363158 for fast access to an appointment.

Published on 24 August 2022