Skin Cancer: How to Spot Cancerous Moles at Home, Nurse Reveals


London: A skin cancer specialist has revealed the five-step test you can carry out at home if you are concerned a mole, freckle or skin lesion might be something more sinister. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the UK and melanoma is the most serious type. It is easily treated if it is caught early but can be fatal if it is left for too long.

Speaking to FEMAIL, Laura Harker, a lead screening nurse at the UK’s MOLE Clinic, revealed that while regular checks are advisable, now is a particularly pertinent time to pay attention to your skin after sun exposure during the summer. Laura discussed the key features everyone should look out for when checking their moles, including a scalloped border, changing colour and irregular shape.

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She also revealed the common mistakes people make, including ignoring marks that might first appear to be a scab or open wound. Although Laura shared tips for home checks, she urged any patient who is worried about a mole to seek a GP or second professional medical appearance as soon as possible.

What moles should you monitor?

Some moles are present at birth or appear within the first two years of life, but most develop during childhood and early adult life. The number of moles increases up to the age of 30-40 and after that, they tend to decrease. A tendency to have multiple moles runs in some families. Sunburn or excessive sun exposure contributes to new moles formation and people with fair skin are more at risk.

Any new moles appearing in adulthood need to be monitored and checked if it is noticeably growing or changing. A normal, non-cancerous mole changes so slowly that change should not be very noticeable.

The FIVE different types of melanoma – and how to identify them

Superficial spreading melanoma:

Superficial spreading melanoma is the most common type of melanoma in the UK and tends to start growing outwards rather than downwards into the skin. Keep an eye out for moles that change dramatically in diameter.

Nodular melanoma:

Nodular melanoma grows downwards into the deeper layer of the skin and can grow quickly. There is often a raised area on the skin, and they usually appear as a changing lump that might be black to red in colour.

Lentigo maligna melanoma:

Most commonly affecting older people, lentigo maligna melanoma develops slowly over several years and appears in areas that are often exposed to the sun, such as the face. Flat and growing sideways in the surface layers of the skin, it can grow down into the deeper layers and may form lumps.

Acral lentiginous melanoma:

A rare type of melanoma that usually grow on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet, or underneath the nail. It is most common in people with dark skin, but it can happen in people with any skin colour.

Amelanotic melanoma:

Amelanotic melanomas have little or no colour, but may occasionally be pink or red, or have light brown or grey edges.