A “Mole” is a catch all word for discrete skin lesions which are pigmented in various shades of brown and beige . It is not in itself a diagnostic medical term but comprises pigmented naevus , lentigo, seborrhoeic keratosis and malignant melanoma amongst others . There are many other types of skin lesions but for this article I’ll discuss pigmented ones. If you want further information on skin lesions go to www.patient.info.
The main concern for most people on noticing a mole, particularly a new one, is that it might be malignant. In this respect malignant melanoma (MM) is by far the most serious diagnosis as it is an aggressive cancer. Fortunately MMs are relatively rare; in the UK 3 in 10,000 people will develop one (although the incidence is slowly rising). The vast majority of moles are benign but the challenge is to differentiate these from MMs.
WHO IS AT RISK?
WORRYING SIGNS- ABCDE guide
These are not the only signs - see Surveillance below.
WHAT CAN I DO?
- Be aware of your risk factors; if you have any you should check your skin in a good light every couple of months. Get someone to check your back. Don’t forget to check your soles and nailbeds
One useful way to survey moles is to take a high resolution photo with a ruler alongside any moles of concern and repeat 2 months later; generally benign moles will not grow appreciably in this time.
Hopefully this short guide will help you to manage your moles but if you have ANY doubts or concerns please make an appointment for further assessment.