There were 15419 cases of melanoma diagnosed in 2014 in the UK, which represents a 119% increase since 1993.
Regular monitoring of your skin is essential. You need to be more vigilant if,
- You have more than 100 moles
- You have a family history of melanoma
- You have had intermittent intense exposure to the sun
- You have type 1 skin (red or blond hair, blue eyes, freckles, burn very easily and never tan)
The ABCDEFG approach to looking at moles is a good screening tool.
A – asymmetry (if you draw a line in the middle, the lesion is not evenly halved)
B – border (the border is not even)
C – colour (the lesion is multicoloured-shades of brown, black, blue, white)
D – diameter (the lesion measures more than 6mm)
E – elevated (the lesion is more raised compared to surrounding skin)
F – firm (the lesion is firmer to touch compared to surrounding skin)
G – growing (the lesion is growing / changing)
There is no reliable way to determine cancer unless examined by a dermatologist who will use a dermatoscope (magnifying glass) to look at the mole in more detail. Your dermatologist may advise to have the lesion removed to be examined under a microscope.
- Enlist the help of a friend/family member to look at sites which are difficult to access (back, scalp, back of the legs).
- Compare with photos taken in the past to determine whether the mole is old, new or changed.
- Take photos of your skin / mole and regularly monitor your skin.
- Always use sun screen (SPF 50+ UVB and 5* UVA rating) and re-apply regularly.
- Carry sun cream in your bag as you may get caught out by changing weather.
- Wear a wide brim hat.
- See your GP or a dermatologist as soon as possible if you are worried about a mole.
- Avoid staying out in the sun between 1100 and 1500 as the sun is at its highest during that time.