Home Health Could YOUR mole be cancerous? After warning that more than 20,000 Britons could suffer from skin cancer this year, we reveal the simple ABCDE guide doctors use to detect melanoma

Could YOUR mole be cancerous? After warning that more than 20,000 Britons could suffer from skin cancer this year, we reveal the simple ABCDE guide doctors use to detect melanoma

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 Could YOUR mole be cancerous? After warning that more than 20,000 Britons could suffer from skin cancer this year, we reveal the simple ABCDE guide doctors use to detect melanoma

METERElanoma skin cancer rates are expected to hit a record high in the UK this summer, with experts issuing a warning to sun worshipers.

Rates of cancer, which is usually caused by excessive exposure to ultraviolet light from the sun or tanning beds, have increased by almost a third in a decade.

And with the summer holidays quickly approaching, research suggests that 20,800 cases of the disease could be expected this year.

The figures, revealed by the charity Cancer Research UK, have sparked calls for people to use high factor sunscreen, spend time in the shade and cover up rather than risk sunburn.

It has also sparked a new warning about the dangers of using a sun lounger to tan before going on holiday.

Melanoma often starts as a new mole or a change in an existing mole.

Here, MailOnline reveals the simple ABCDE checklist doctors use to detect melanoma…

A – asymmetric

This refers to the symmetry of your mole.

Looking for moles with an uneven or irregular shape may help you spot an early sign of melanoma.

This is because, unlike normal moles, which are usually round with smooth edges, melanomas are not usually symmetrical.

They can have two halves of different shapes and uneven edges, according to the NHS.

If a mole stands out and looks different to other moles, it is recommended that you get it checked by your GP.

B – edge

This refers to the shape of the edges of your mole.

Melanomas are also more likely to have irregular borders or to have blurry or irregular borders, says Cancer Research UK.

For comparison, Macmillan says that common moles “typically have a clear, soft-edged edge.”

They can appear anywhere on the body.

In men, melanomas are most commonly found on the back and in women the most common site is the legs, the charity says.


This refers to the color of your mole.

A mole with different shades and colors could be a melanoma.

Melanomas can be different shades, from a mix of brown and black to red, pink, white or even a blue tint, says Macmillan.

However, normal moles usually have only brown tones.

Some people with pale skin or light hair develop melanomas that are red and pink, but not brown, says Macmillan.

The charity adds that this is called amelanotic melanoma and is rare compared to other types of melanoma.

D – diameter

This refers to the size of your mole and its width.

Moles are usually only the size of a pencil tip or smaller. But if you spot a mole larger than 6mm wide, it could be melanoma.

Macmillan says people with many moles, including some larger than 5mm, are likely to have been there for years without changing.

“It is recommended that people with many moles or larger moles see a dermatologist to have them checked,” the charity states. “This is important if you have had mole changes in the past.”

my – evolving

This refers to how your mole might be evolving and changing.

Most harmless moles stay the same shape over time, but melanomas often grow and change shape and even color.

The change in shape may include the area becoming raised or domed, says Macmillan. If the mole is flat, it may stay that way but become wider, he adds.

It’s not just the size and shape to consider: melanomas can also swell and hurt.

This can cause them to feel itchy or tingly, bleed and also look like scabs, the NHS warns.

Some melanomas develop from existing moles and grow on what was previously normal skin, says Cancer Research UK.

Therefore, it is important to be aware of changes and if any “normal mole” itches, swells or begins to become irritated.

But the earlier melanoma is detected, the easier it will be to treat, so it’s important to see your GP as soon as possible if you have these skin changes, warns Cancer Research UK.

What is malignant melanoma?

Malignant melanoma is a severe form of skin cancer that begins in melanocytes, cells found in the top layer of the skin that produce melanin, which gives the skin its color.

While it is less common than other types of skin cancer, it is more dangerous due to its ability to spread to other organs more quickly if not treated at an early stage.


A new mole or a change in an existing mole may be signs of melanoma.

Melanomas can appear anywhere on the body, but are most common in areas that are often exposed to the sun.

Some rarer types may affect the eyes, soles of the feet, palms of the hands, or genitals.

Check your skin for unusual changes. Use a mirror or ask a partner or friend to check areas you can’t see.

In particular, look for:

  • Moles with uneven shape or edges.
  • Polka dots with mixed colors
  • Large moles: Melanomas are usually more than 6 mm wide.
  • Moles that change size, shape, or color over time.


Ultraviolet (UV) light is the most common cause of melanoma. It comes from the sun and is used in sun loungers.

Melanoma is more common in older people, but younger people can get it too.

You are also more likely to get melanoma if you have:

  • Pale skin that burns easily in the sun.
  • Red or blonde hair
  • Blue or green eyes
  • A large number of freckles or moles.
  • He has been exposed to the sun a lot and has suffered many sunburns in the past.
  • Use the sun loungers a lot.
  • A history of skin cancer in your family or have had skin cancer before

If you have black or brown skin, you are less likely to get melanoma, but you can still get it.


Staying safe in the sun is the best way to reduce your chances of getting skin cancer (both melanoma and non-melanoma).

Do the following:

  • Stay out of the sun during the hottest times of the day (11am to 3pm in the UK)
  • Keep your arms and legs covered and wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses that provide protection from ultraviolet (UV) rays.
  • Use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 and UVA protection of at least 4 stars; be sure to reapply it regularly
  • Make sure babies and children are protected from the sun: their skin is much more sensitive than that of adults.


Melanoma skin cancer can often be treated. Your treatment will depend on where it is located, whether it has spread, and your general health.

Surgery is the main treatment for melanoma. Sometimes radiation therapy, medications, and chemotherapy are also used.

Surgery may involve removing the melanoma and an area of ​​healthy skin around it, swollen lymph nodes if the cancer has spread to them, and other parts of the body if it has spread to them.

If a large part of the skin needs to be removed, a skin graft may be needed in which relatives could be taken from another part of the body to cover the area where the melanoma was.

Radiation therapy is sometimes used to shrink large melanomas and help control and relieve symptoms.

Targeted medications and immotherapy are used to treat melanomas that cannot be treated with surgery or that have spread to lymph nodes or other parts of the body.

Chemotherapy, which kills cancer cells, is sometimes used to treat advanced melanoma when it has spread to another part of the body. It does not work as well as other treatments, but can be used if you cannot receive them.

How dangerous is it?

Generally for people with melanoma in England:

  • Almost all people (almost 100%) will survive melanoma for 1 year or more after diagnosis.
  • About 90 out of 100 people (about 90%) will survive melanoma for 5 years or more after diagnosis.
  • More than 85 in 100 people (more than 85%) will survive melanoma for 10 years or more after being diagnosed

Sources: NHS, Skin Cancer Foundation and Cancer Research UK

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