Friday, 9 January 2015

Check your moles monthly

The British Skin Foundation is urging people to check their loved ones' moles - as Valentine's Day fast approaches.

According to Dr Bav Shergill, consultant dermatologist and British Skin Foundation trustee, most skin cancers can be cured if detected early. "The best way to detect skin cancer is to check your skin regularly, about once a month," he says. "You should examine the skin all over your body from top to toe. Ask a friend or member of your family to look at areas you can't see, such as your scalp, ears and back."

Things to look for

  • Moles that are growing or changing shape
  • Moles that are developing new colours
  • Moles that are inflamed, bleeding or red around the edges
  • Moles that are particularly itchy or behaving unusually
  • A new growth or sore that won't heal
  • A spot or sore that itches or hurts
  • A mole or growth that bleeds, crusts or scabs.

According to Cancer Research UK, it's generally a good idea to be aware of how your skin normally looks so that you are more likely to notice any changes. Following Cancer Research UK's ABCD rules can help you identify specific changes in moles:

  • Asymmetry: The two halves of the moles don't look the same.
  • Border: The edges of the mole are irregular, blurred or jagged. 
  • Colour: The colour of the mole is uneven with more than one shade.
  • Diameter: The mole is wider than 6mm in diameter (the size of a pencil eraser).
The devastating facts

  • Seven people die from skin cancer every day in the UK.
  • Over 100,000 new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in the UK each year.
  • Rates of malignant melanoma are rising faster than any other type of common cancer.
  • On average, someone who dies from skin cancer typically loses 20 years of their life.
  • At least two 15-34 year olds are being diagnosed with malignant melanoma every day in the UK.
Tell your doctor about any changes to a mole or patch of skin. This is particularly important if you are at an increased risk of skin cancer (e.g. fair skin, lots of moles or freckles, red or fair hair, a history of sunburn and/or a personal or family history of skin cancer).

Most skin changes turn out to be nothing to worry about - but it's better to be safe and remain vigilant. If in doubt, get it checked straight away.

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