How healthy are your moles?

Why you should be concerned about melanoma:

  • Melanoma is the fifth most common cancer in the UK and its incidence rates have been increasing more rapidly than any of the current top ten cancers.
  • 13,300 cases of malignant melanoma were diagnosed in 2011 in the UK, that's 37 people every day.
  • Around 2,100 people died from malignant melanoma in 2012 in the UK, that's around 6 every day.
  • 6 in 10 people who die from this type of skin cancer are under 75 years old.
  • In the UK, around 11, 100 cases of melanoma each year are linked to excessive exposure to sunlight and use of sunbeds.
  • Malignant melanoma survival has been improving for the last forty years and is now amongst the highest for any cancer.

What are moles?

Moles are small coloured spots on the skin made up of cells known as melanocytes, which produce the  colour pigment in your skin. They are most commonly known a brownish colour and completely harmless and benign, however, in some cases they can develop into melanoma is treated easily, but if caught too late it can be fatal.
Most moles will develop before you turn 30 and are most common in those with fair skin and can sometimes depend on where you are brought up. If you spend a lot of time in the sun, you are more likely to develop lots of moles and if they are common in your family then you are more likely to develop them too.

What to look out for:

The acronym ABCDE is commonly used as an aid when looking for changes within moles:

Asymmetry: one half of the mole is different to the other
Border: irregular, scalloped or poorly defined edge
Colour: uneven colour or variable colours within a mole
Diameter: the mole is bigger than 6mm in size
Evolving: the mole is changing in its size, shape and colour

Top tips for staying safe in the sun:

  • Try to stay in shaded areas when the sun is at its strongest, between 11am and 3pm.
  • When you're in the sun, wear a wide-brimmed sun hat and sunglasses
  • Use a high factor sunscreen (min SPF 15) and reapply regular, especially after swimming
  • Avoid using sunbeds and sun lams because they give out UV rays

For more advice and help on skin cancer visit

Tips from Cedars dermatology