The top American Cancer hospital, Dana-Farber, has just issued guidelines for an annual mole check-up

Using their ABCDE method

  • A – Asymmetry, or when one half of the mark appears different than the other.
  • B – Border, when the mark has an irregular, scalloped, or poorly defined border.
    • C – Color, if the mark is varied from one area to the other. It might have shades of tan, brown, black, or be white, red, or blue.
    • D – Diameter. Melanomas are usually bigger than 6mm, or the size of a pencil eraser. In some cases, they can appear smaller.
    • E – Evolving, when a mole or mark looks different from others on your body, or has changed recently .C –

Dana-Farber also suggests if you have many moles, atypical moles, or a family history of melanoma, you should have an annual check-up by a dermatologist.

Where to go for check-ups in UK

Some GPs or Nurses at your local surgery will do this

In other areas this will be carried out in your local hospital’s Urgent Care Centre (UCC).

Or you can elect to go privately – but be careful that you consult a genuine dermatologist – not a cosmetic centre.

Keep these risk factors in mind:

  • Having light or fair skin (especially with light-colored or blue eyes, and blond or red hair).
  • You don’t tan easily
  • Develop freckles easily
  • Frequently get sunburn
  • Having one or more blistering sunburns, especially at a young age
  • Living somewhere with a high degree of sun exposure

And as I have found out, if you already have had cancer, you are at increased risk of developing skin cancer.

The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends using the “ABCDE” method to self-screen monthly for melanoma in moles and birthmarks, marks different from others on your body, or any birthmark that has changed recently .

It is also important to check your own skin regularly for new or changing moles or birth marks – whether or not you have a family history or the risk factors above.

Learn more about melanoma treatment and research at Dana-Farber.