How to Check Your Moles
Checking Moles for Signs of Cancer
You probably have a mole or two, somewhere on your body. You might have had it since you were a child, or perhaps it’s relatively new, either way, it might be time for a mole check! It’s hard to tell what goes on inside your body, but the state of your moles can be an important indicator. We often ignore warning signs, except for when they are obvious. You might only notice when a new mole pops up, but just as new moles may not necessarily be harmful, old moles are not invulnerable to becoming dangerous. But when should you be concerned?
Are you at risk?
First of all it is important to know what puts people more at risk than others. This can be a mix of genetic and environmental factors, but there are also lifestyle habits which affect your susceptibility just as much. Here is a list of genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors which can increase your risk of having skin cancer:
– Having fair skin or any skin type which burns easily
– Tanning under the sun or in sunbeds
– Taking medication which affects your immune system
– Have a lot of moles on your body
– Having large moles
How do you check your moles?
Just as important as knowing why to check your moles, is how to check them! This can seem like an intimidating thing and some might assume it best left to a professional. However, whilst seeking professional advice and consulting a doctor is paramount, checking your moles at home in-between visits is also crucial! So where do you begin? Here is a simple list of must-do’s for self-checking at home:
– Check yourself with a lot of light, stand by a window or turn on a light!
– Use multiple mirrors. A full-length is best, but using a handheld mirror can help you to check those hard to reach spots and get a fuller picture
– Don’t neglect difficult to reach areas, in fact these are most important. Try checking in between toes and fingers, the bottom of your feet and even underarms!
What are you looking for?
Now you know why and how, what are you looking for? You might just think a mole is a mole, but there are certain significant changes you should look out for. If you’re the forgetful type, there is a clear-cut way of remembering, which is using the alphabet ABCDE:
A – Asymmetry. This indicates the symmetry of the mole itself, look for how similar each side looks.
B – Border. Pay attention to what encompasses the mole, is the outline blurred or wobbly?
C – Colour. This means how your mole is coloured, is it a mix of different colours and shades?
D – Diameter. Is your mole diameter bigger than 6mm?
E – Evolution. This refers to how your mole has changed or whether it is new.
This is a good rule for checking the mole’s appearance, but there are other factors such as bleeding, crust and itching that you should be aware of.
If you’ve followed these steps and are concerned about a mole on your body, it might be time to consult with a medical professional. Book yourself in with your GP or approach a hospital, you might have to get a private mole check. This can be the first step to diagnosis and skin cancer treatment, and it is best to catch early! Either way, seeking advice and help from a professional is the start on a path to peace of mind.