Mole removal and awareness
by Professor Harryono Judodihardjo, medical director of the Cellite Clinic in Cardiff and member of the British Association of Cosmetic Doctors (BACD).
The clocks change soon, and British Summer Time will be upon us. This is a good time to have a mole MOT - having them checked by a doctor to ensure that no unwelcome changes have taken place.
As a result of sunburn in early life, or repeated exposure to sun in adult life, moles can become cancerous, and, in extreme cases, lead to malignant melanoma.
As with any other health issues, the sooner the problem is diagnosed, the sooner it can be treated, increasing the chances of a positive outcome.
Skin cancer is divided into two categories, malignant melanoma of the skin and non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) - that includes problems such as ‘rodent ulcers’ and squamous cell carcinoma.
NMSC is very common, and one study estimates that at least 100,000 cases are diagnosed each year in the UK.
Malignant melanoma is the least common form of skin cancer but is the most serious - about 10,000 new cases are diagnosed annually in the UK.
This form of cancer tends to be aggressive, and can invade the body’s organs with potentially fatal consequences. Around 2000 people in the UK die each year from malignant melanoma.
Unlike most malignancies, malignant melanoma is more common in women than in men with a M:F ratio of 4:5.
It’s also the sixth most common cancer in women, and the 9th in men.
Distribution also varies by sex, with the cancer generally found on the trunk in a man, and on the legs in females.
Statistically, female sufferers have a better survival rate than males. This may be because women get their abnormal looking moles seen by their GP sooner than men.
On the positive side, we can all help ourselves by minimising our exposure to sunlight - UV light being the main culprit in causing skin cancer. Unfortunately, fair-skinned Celtic people do not have natural pigmentation in the skin, which is designed to deflect the damaging effects of fierce sunlight, and are more vulnerable to its damaging effects.
Along with staying safe in the sun and wearing sunscreen, we can also be mole aware, noting any changes to the mole in terms of size, shape and colour.
So, don’t take any chances if you spot any irregularities, and ask your GP to take a look. The Cellite Clinic offers mole and skin tag removal in Cardiff.
There is a simple check list for individuals to use when keeping an eye on their moles, the A-E guide.
A - asymmetry - asymmetrical or uneven moles are more likely to be cancerous.
B - border - the border of a mole should be even - if it appears ragged then a problem may be developing.
C - colour - dark coloured moles, those with a heavy pigmentation, are more likely to become cancerous.
D - diameter - moles should be less than 6mm across. Large moles have a greater tendency to become cancerous.
E - elevation/evolution - a raised or changing mole is likely to be growing, either horizontally or vertically, this indicates activity and may be a cause for concern.
The three most common forms of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma.
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common of the above types of skin cancer. Accumulated exposure to sunlight is a key trigger, but it is also strongly associated with the number of sunburn episodes over the course of a lifetime, particularly childhood sunburn.
This type of skin cancer is also known popularly as a ‘rodent ulcer’. It rarely metastasises or kills, but it can cause considerable disfigurement when it invades surrounding tissue.
Squamous cell carcinoma relates to long-term exposure to sunshine; and the damage accumulated over a protracted period results in cancer on exposed areas such as the face, neck, and backs of hands.
Malignant melanoma is the least common but most deadly form of skin cancer. It grows very aggressively and metastasises rapidly. Melanoma is strongly related to severe sunburn, particularly during childhood.
Worrying though this information may appear, it is not intended as a cause for alarm, the important factor is to keep an eye on moles so that any changes can be detected sooner rather than later, and the appropriate treatment received quickly.
The Cellite Clinic offers mole and skin tag removal in Cardiff.
Further press information from: Nerys Lloyd-Pierce 02920 343 121/07701 007 128, email: firstname.lastname@example.org