Melanoma is a skin cancer that can develop from abnormal moles. Although most moles do not cause any problems, the risk of melanoma increases the more moles you have, so you need to observe your moles and limit your exposure to the sun.
How Common is Melanoma?
Melanoma is the fifth commonest cancer in the UK excluding other skin cancers, with around 13,300 people in the UK being diagnosed every year. The incidence of skin cancer is over five times higher than it was in the 1970s, possibly due to more holidays abroad and higher exposure to the sun generally.
Who is at Risk?
People with lots of large or oddly shaped moles have an increased risk of melanoma as do very fair skinned people, especially those with red or fair hair. People with lots of freckles are also at higher risk and those who are likely to get sunburnt. People who have actually been sunburnt are at a much higher risk than those who haven’t. It is unusual for black people who live in the UK to develop melanoma. Cancer Research UK gives full information about the risks and causes of melanoma.
When Should I See a Doctor about my Mole?
If you notice a new mole, or you have one that is increasing in size, you should see a doctor urgently. Other changes that indicate you should see a doctor are if a mole changes shape or colour, gets an irregular edge or becomes darker or patchy, especially those with 3 or more colours in them. If a mole starts to itch or becomes painful, bleeds or gets inflamed you should have it checked quickly. The NHS provides a helpful visual guide to help you to check your moles.
Of course, even if your mole is benign, it may cause problems by rubbing on clothing or you may just be unhappy with its appearance. If this is the case you can arrange for UK mole removal by checking out clinics such as the London cosmetic clinic offering mole removal in London.
Treatment of Melanoma
If a mole is precancerous it can usually be removed under local anaesthetic, but if it has reached a higher stage treatment can be more complex and you will be under the care of a team of health professionals.