Schedule a Mole Check to detect Skin Cancer early
Regularly checking your moles is an important part of your preventative health routine. In addition to checking your own skin at least once a month, an examination by an experienced Dermatologist is essential to help detect skin cancers at an early stage. Dr. Glass has extensive experience in this clinical area and regularly carries out mole screenings as one of his services at his clinic in Harley Street. If a questionable mole is found, prompt treatment and removal is essential.
People are often surprised about how common skin cancer is. In particular its essential that melanoma, which is the most dangerous type of skin canceris picked up early.
According to Cancer Research UK, melanoma is the 5th most common cancer in the general population of the UK, with about 13,300 people diagnosed each year. In individuals under the age of 50, it is the 2nd most common form of cancer, although the highest incidence is in people over 85. In addition, the most common type of cancer in the country is different type of skin called Basal Cell Carcinoma, although curable, this tumour will not resolve spontaneously so treatment by a Dermatologist is essential.
Risk factors for skin cancer include:
- Family history of skin cancer or personal history of cancer.
- Light skin/hair colour, freckles and moles: Individuals with light skin and hair, particularly those that freckle in the sun are at higher risk of skin cancer. The more moles you have on your body, the higher your risk of developing melanoma.
- Over-exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun or sunbeds. Sun tans are never safe. Despite what they may want you to believe sunbeds are not a safe alternative to outdoor tanning and studies show that the intensity of some of the UV rays they give off can be 10 to 15 times higher than that of the midday sun.
- Sunburns – people who go on holiday in warm climates but are generally not exposed to the sun are more at risk of sunburns and melanoma than those that have regular exposure to sunlight. Getting a painful sunburn just once every two years can triple the risk of melanoma.
What to Look For During a Mole Check
If you are concerned about a new mole, a non healing lesion or a significant change in any area of your skin, make an appointment with Dr. Glass straight away.
The following signs or symptoms are important in helping ascertain which moles could be of concern when self monitoring. any lesions that fall into the categories below, should be checked out immediately by a doctor:
- Asymmetry: one half of the mole doesn’t match the other.
- Irregular border: if the border of the mole is ragged, blurred or irregular.
- Change in shape – if the mole has become larger or changed shape.
- Any mole with a diameter larger than 6mm should be examined.
- Change in colour: if the mole has become darker, patchy or multi-shaded or has new colours such as blue, white or red. Studies show that moles with 3 or more shades of brown or black are highly linked to melanoma.
- Other changes: any sudden itching or pain, bleeding, oozing or inflammation should immediately be checked out.
Evaluation and Treatment of Skin Cancer
If the doctor determines that a mole is suspicious, he will schedule a biopsy to remove it. This typically involves using a local anesthetic and then removing the mole which is then sent for testing. Recovery after the procedure is usually . If skin cancer is found, the histology result (analysis of the biopsy sample) informs us about the severity of the lesion and help determine the course of treatment.
Prevention of Skin Cancer
If you are at risk of skin cancer, do regular skin screenings. Take pictures of your moles to compare over time and have a family member help you screen in hard to see places.
In addition to mole checks, prevent sun exposure by covering up with long sleeves, pants, and hats that have a brim in the front and also cover the neck, as well as wrap-around sunglasses with full UV protection. Wear sunscreen with full UVA and UVB protection which is indicated by a high SPF and a star rating of 5 stars. Additionally, try to stay out of the sun during during peak hours (11 to 3).
Melanoma is a deadly form of cancer. The earlier melanoma is diagnosed and treated, the greater the chances of success.
To schedule an appointment with Dr Glass for a mole evaluation, please call 020 3282 0011.