This Morning: Jon Courtenay recalls skin cancer diagnosis
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Cancer Research UK elaborated: “Melanoma skin cancer incidence rates are projected to rise by seven percent in the UK between 2014 and 2035, to 32 cases per 100,000 people by 2035.” Dermatologist Dr Sagar Patel, a leading skin specialist, points out the warning signs of abnormal lesions on the body. “Unfortunately, the UK is way behind countries such as Australia and the United States when it comes to awareness of moles,” said Dr Patel.
“While regular mole-mapping is very common in other parts of the world, many Brits simply ignore changes in their skin.
“Granted, we don’t have the same warm climate, but you don’t need high temperatures to be exposed to harmful UV rays that can increase the chances of a mole becoming cancerous.”
Dr Patel cautioned that melanoma – the most common type of skin cancer – may not cause a mole to itch, bleed, or release discharge.
However, should any mole bleed, itch, or release discharge, you are strongly advised to book a doctor’s appointment as soon as possible.
“It’s important to have a good understanding of your moles and be aware of anything that needs expert attention,” Dr Patel added.
“You should definitely be aware that so-called silent changes also occur [in a cancerous mole],” he stated.
The dermatologist assured that “moles can change over time”, becoming “raised and altering in colour, shape and size”.
“Some even disappear altogether,” Dr Patel added. “This is where being aware of your skin is key.
“Changes that occur over months rather than years – moles becoming darker quickly – are definitely worth getting looked at as a matter of urgency.”
No matter your skin colouring, everybody is at risk of UV damage that increases the likelihood of melanoma.
“Whatever your skin type or colour, be aware of your moles and take the necessary precautions when you are outside all year round,” Dr Patel emphasised.
One such precaution is to wear high factor sunblock whenever outside in strong sunshine.
The ABCDE melanoma checklist
- A – asymmetry, when half the mole doesn’t match the other
- B – border, when the outline of the mole is irregular, ragged or blurred
- C – colour, when it varies throughout and/or there appears to be no uniform colour
- D – diameter, if it’s greater than 6mm; E – evolving, or changes in the mole.
“If you check your moles for these five points it can help you stay on top of any issues,” said Dr Patel.
“But there is no substitute for having an appointment with a specialist, who will examine your skin and discuss any area of concern.”
How to protect your skin
In addition to wearing sun block, experts at the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend wearing clothing to protect the skin.
Examples include a wide-brimmed hat to help shade the face, head, ears and neck.
Wearing sunglasses that protect against both UVA and UVB rays is also recommended.
Dr Sagar Patel is a dermatology specialist at MyHealthcare Clinic.
MyHealthcare Clinic, which has sites across London and the South East, offers specific mole analysis or general mole checks.
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