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Skin cancer symptoms: The difference between normal and cancerous moles on your body

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The most common sign of skin cancer is the appearance of a new mole, or a change to an existing mole. Naturally, as you grow older, the landscape of your skin changes. How can you tell what mark needs an expert examination?

The charity Melanoma UK explained skin cancer begins in the melanocyte cells.

These are responsible for creating the pigment melanin that determines your skin’s natural colour.

The more melanin your body produces, the darker the shade of your skin tone.

“Everyone is at risk,” asserts Melanoma UK. “Melanoma does not discriminate by age, race, or gender.”

UVA and UVB light contributes to skin damage, and exposure to either increases your risk of developing skin cancer.

Exposure can be through natural sunlight, or artificial lights used in sunbeds to sunlamps.

The ABCDE checklist

When looking at moles on your body, the ABCDE checklist can help determine if any marks need examining by a healthcare professional.

A is for asymmetry

Melanomas typically have an irregular shape, meaning they’re asymmetrical (both sides of the mole will look different).

Normal benign moles, on the other hand, have both halves that look the same.

B is for border

Melanomas are more likely to have a blurred or irregular border with jagged edges.

Ordinary moles tend to have a well-defined, clear, smooth-edged border.

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C is for colour

Melanomas tend to be more than one colour, and may have different shades of brown mixed with a black, red, pink, white or blue tint.

This differs from ordinary, healthy moles that tend to be one shade of brown.

D is for diameter

Melanomas are usually more than 6mm wide in diameter, whereas an ordinary mole isn’t typically larger than the blunt end of a pencil.

E is for evolving

Any changes in a moles size, shape or colour requires a visit to the GP’s clinic.

At the doctor’s clinic, they either will reassure you that your mole is safe, or you could be referred to a dermatologist.

“The earlier a cancer is picked up, the more likely it can be treated successfully,” assured Melanoma UK.

This is why it’s important not to delay seeing a doctor about any mole you’re concerned about.

The best course of action is that your mind will be put at ease as you discover it’s nothing to worry about.

However, even if you do get referred to a dermatologist, you’re likely to be seen within two weeks.

A dermatologist will also be able to examine the rest of your skin to see if you have any unusual moles.

A biopsy – either at the dermatologists or doctor’s clinic – may be taken if melanoma is suspected.

The biopsy is then examined under a microscope by a pathologist to see if any melanoma is present.

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