Should I self check moles?

The answer to this question is both yes and no. On one hand, it is important for the average adult to regularly check their skin for new moles or any changes to existing moles.

Although it is rare for moles to become cancerous, the earlier that cancerous moles are spotted and treated, the better the chances that treatment will be successful.

That said if you have any concerns or doubts as to the condition of a mole or group of moles, or if you have many moles (more than other people you know) then it is essential that you seek professional advice as soon as possible.

Dr Jonathan Bowling has many years experience of mole screening and access to the latest techniques of dermoscopy and digital mole mapping. He will be able to make a much more informed and accurate assessment than you will be able to do yourself.

Self assessment of moles

You can check your own skin for moles, using a mirror to check those hard to reach places that you cannot see directly. Alternatively, you can get your partner or a parent to check your back and neck for you.

You can get moles anywhere on your body, but you will soon learn where your moles are, and so checking them becomes a quick and easy process.

A note of caution though. The fact that early treatment for malignant melanoma is so important can lead to people becoming over anxious about their moles. However, moles generally change quite slowly, with differences taking several weeks or even months to appear, so you should not get obsessive about checking your skin.

If you do not have any particular risk factors, checking your moles should only take 15 about minutes every month. Additionally try to get into the habit of checking your partner’s skin every 3 months or as the seasons change. Skin cancers tend to be solitary and different to other skin lesions. If you find a skin lesion that is different to the rest or just looks odd, get it checked out.

Checking existing moles and spotting new moles

You should look out for the common warning signs that might indicate pre-cancerous or cancerous changes to your moles. To make it easier to assess your own moles, you can use the ABCDE method as a checklist:

  • A – asymmetry – most moles are round or oval in shape so look out for odd shapes.
  • B – border irregularity – most moles have a smooth edge to them so look out for ragged edges.
  • C – colour change – most moles are brown and only one or two colours so look out for colour changes or new shades appearing.
  • D – diameter – most moles will remain the same size, usually less than 5mm so look out for increases in size, especially beyond 5mm.
  • E – elevated – most moles are flat or slightly raised so look out for moles that become raised.

For any moles that is the odd one out – check it out!

Need an appointment with Dr Bowling?

Since early diagnosis and assessment is essential, you should always consult a qualified and experienced dermatologist if you have any concerns at all about the shape, size or changes in a mole or group of moles. Dr Bowling can monitor moles that are causing concern, arrange dermoscopy and digital mole mapping and, if necessary, skin biopsy and treatment.

Vogue recommends Dr Jonathan Bowling, an early detection specialist.

“Needing to find a dermatologist may be thrust upon you, but you’ll still want to find the best”.

Vogue 2014