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We don’t often think of our skin as the largest organ humans have. It’s the organ we wear on the outside. The average person carries 3.6 Kg and 2 square meters of skin. With so much of it, it is hardly surprising that skin cancer is the 5th most common cancer in the UK. According to Cancer Research, skin cancer now accounts for 4% of all new cases (2017). The good news is that the recovery rate is exceptionally high 87% (Cancer Research), while the death rate is much lower than some other cancers.
Most melanoma skin cancers but not all occur on the trunk or the legs, and like all other cancers, the faster a diagnosis is made, the higher the chances of recovery.
How do I know if a mole is cancerous (melanoma)?
The first sign of skin cancer such as melanoma is often the formation of a new mole or a change in the appearance of an old mole.
In general, moles are often no bigger than 0.6mm in diameter and take on a round or oval shape. However, we still do see healthy moles larger than 6mm diameter. The only way to check a mole for evidence of cancer is to be seen by a specialist.
The Dermatology specialist will use a dermatoscope (a skin magnifying glass) to assess all the moles on the skin.
How do I know if a mole is “bad”?
A healthy mole usually is symmetrical in shape, uniform in colour, with smooth edges, and 0.6mm or less in diameter size. A mole may be considered “bad” and suspicious for melanoma if it had the opposite attributes, but the only way to know is for the mole and every other mole on your skin is checked by a consultant dermatologist.
The Consultant Dermatologist uses the ABCDE criteria for checking a mole where:
A-asymmetry, B-border, C colour, D diameter, E elevation
From this simple evaluation and combined with the dermatoscopic appearance the Dermatologist will advise whether your mole is suspicious and requires a biopsy.
What happens during a mole check?
When you come to Clinica, the Consultant Dermatologist will take a detailed history, especially with regards to the amount of sun exposure you have had over your lifetime. Your consultant will also note any family history of skin cancer and would then do a comprehensive examination of your skin, looking at the lesion or the mole that you have come concerned about, but also to examine the skin in general, to make sure there is no concern about any other areas that may have been affected by UV damage over the years.
Dermatologists use a dermatoscope to assess all of the moles on your skin. If any of the moles look abnormal, we would then want to remove them to send the mole tissue for microscopic laboratory testing. This means the mole is reviewed under the microscope and all features can be accurately assessed.
This means we can give you a very accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.
How do I know if my mole is growing back?
Moles that harbour cancer cells may reappear. One reason for the regrowth of a mole is that some of the cells were left behind during the first removal. This is why many opt for a surgical solution to mole removal, cancerous or otherwise. A surgical solution is the best way to remove all the cells of the mole. However, some moles may still reappear and need to be assessed by a specialist.
Observing the mole area is essential after removal to address a mole reappearance early on in the growth.
How do I know if my mole removal (biopsy) is infected?
You can expect slight redness and tenderness for a couple of days after the mole removal. However, if the mole becomes very hot, very itchy, swollen or you see signs of yellow discharge, then you should seek medical advice as these could all signs of infected skin.
How much does a mole check cost?
Prices will depend upon the type of procedure carried out and the individual patient, after our initial consultation the price of which ranges from £200 – £400. If, for example, we conclude that you require treatment, a surgical excision of a skin lesion if required would range from £500-£750.
Please book a consultation for a written quote with a full breakdown of treatment costs.