Just this week, Love Island star Molly-Mae Hague, 21, has shared that she’s undergone surgery for a cancerous mole.
Since taking to social media to share her story, she’s expressed that she’s keen to raise awareness and educate the younger generation on the signs and symptoms of skin cancer.
There are two main types of skin cancer, according to Dr Wade, consultant dermatologist and medical director of London Real Skin in Holborn. That is, melanoma skin cancer and non-melanoma skin cancer.
Melanoma skin cancer is more serious and what Molly-Mae has experienced. “That is where you will see a change in the mole. It could be a mole that you have had for a while that begins to change and look abnormal, or a brand new pigmented lesion that looks different to all the others from day one,” he explains.
Do note here: as medical director of skin clinics chain Cosmedics Dr Ross Perry points out, most moles are, fortunately, harmless.
Skin cancer is the fifth most common cancer in the UK, according to Cancer Care Parcel’s doctor Shara Cohen. She shares: “Over the last decade, the number of people diagnosed with melanoma in the UK has increased by almost half. The death rate equates to 2% of all male cancer deaths and 1% of all female cancer deaths.”
So, how do you know if your moles are cancerous? Here, we enlisted the help of several doctors, dermatologists and skincare experts to help you understand the main warning signs of skin cancer to look out for, how to check your moles at home, and how (and when) to get your moles checked.
First things first, Babylon GP dr Claudia Pastides stresses that if you’re at all worried about your moles, go get them checked out. “In the UK, there is no national screening programme for skin cancer. We all need to be aware of the signs of skin cancer and, if we’re at all worried about our skin, to speak to a GP about it,” she shares.
So, what are the main red flags to look out for, you know, that indicate there’s cause for concern? According to Dr Wade, you’re essentially always looking for a change. These changes can typically include an increase in size, having more than one colour in it or asymmetrical pigmentation so when one side doesn’t look like the other.
A good rule to remember, he shares, is ‘ if in doubt, check it out’. “You should always be suspicious of a new mole, growing moles, the darkest ones on your body and any irregular shapes or borders,” he explains. Also do note—not all moles have symptoms such as bleeding, painful or itching. Some can just change in appearance.
“It’s absolutely vital to be aware of the warning signs of a ‘suspicious’ mole,” explains Dr Ross. “Everybody should regularly check the skin for new or changing moles, bearing in mind the following ‘ABCDE’ signs of melanoma skin cancer, which highlight the common warning signs:
Although according to consultant dermatologist at The Cadogan Clinic Dr Susan Mayou, it’s important to remember that this is a rough outline. “Do remember that a melanoma does not always fit the ABCDE rule,” she explains. “If you notice anything different, or if there is a new skin lesion, if it itches, bleeds or if you are worried about it, you should seek medical help.”
Did you know? 52% of melanoma are identified by tiny changes. “I always say to patients to look for the member of the orchestra playing out of tune,” she adds.” The skin is your largest organ and so easy to examine and monitor and remove lesions if indicated.” Hear, hear.
According to Dr Susan, people at a higher risk of developing melanoma stereotypically have a history of childhood sunburn, prolonged exposure to UV rays, fair skin, outdoor-related work and hobbies, multiple atypical moles, a previous history of skin cancer or melanoma, a family history of skin cancer or melanoma or a history of immunosuppression.
The most common places for skin cancer are areas that are most exposed to the sun including the face (the most common), scalp, ears, neck, hands, chest and back and legs.
It’s simple, according to doctor Shara. Simply make an appointment with your doctor if you notice any changes to your skin that worry you. Do remember—not everything you read on the Internet is accurate, and nothing is a replacement for the opinion of a qualified doctor. “Not all skin changes are caused by skin cancer. Your doctor will investigate your skin changes to determine a cause.”
Keen to skip the GP and book an appointment with a specialist? There are a whole host to choose from, but the Cadogan Clinic’s mole check is approved by the British Skin Foundation, so a safe bet.
Remember: Melanoma can be treated. The chances of cure are higher if the melanoma is diagnosed and treated early, so it is really important not to delay seeing your GP about it.
Tamra Judge, Melanoma, The Real Housewives of Orange County, Skin cancer, Freckle, Melanocytic nevus
World news – GB – As Molly-Mae reveals she’s had a cancerous mole removed, here’s how to spot the symptoms of skin cancer | Marie Claire