British Skin Foundation - Sun Awareness & Skin Cancer

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Postby annahibby54 on Wed May 10, 2017 3:34 pm

I have lots of large moles on my back and worry about the sun when on holiday aborad, I can not really see them at all but they are large and always dark have about 12, should I get these checked ever or only if one starts to irritate etc ?
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Re: Moles

Postby Dr Ed Seaton on Wed May 10, 2017 10:12 pm


Thanks for your question. Moles in themselves are not dangerous, but it is important to know what changes you should look for. Melanoma is one of the most serious types of skin cancer, and is on the increase, mainly because foreign travel and increased sun exposure, particularly with sudden sunburns of the type that occur on holiday.

A key thing to remember is that melanomas grow, so that their appearance CHANGES. So if you notice a mole that is changing in SIZE, SHAPE or COLOUR it is definitely worth seeing a doctor urgently to get it checked out. Itching or bleeding can also be a sign of a problem. A mole that really stands out from the others, like an ugly duckling, should also be assessed.

Another way to look at it is to remember ABCD. Is the mole ASYMMETRICAL, does it have an irregular or jagged BORDER, does it have more than two COLOURS and is the DIAMETER more than six millimetres (about the size of the end of a biro)? Now none of these signs means that the mole is a skin cancer and it sounds as if your normal moles might be naturally quite large, but if you are at all concerned it is worth seeing a doctor to let them take a look.

Finally, don’t worry about your moles when on holiday, but take sensible precautions. Definitely avoid burning and do not seek to get a tan. Try and come back roughly the same colour you were when you went. Tanning is a sign of sun damage and sun damage can cause skin cancer. Use a high factor sun block (above 30), Uses clothes, hats or parasols to cover your skin during the brightest part of the day (between 11am and 3pm). If you enjoy the warmth of the sun, you can lie in it more safely after 3pm. Doing this will also protect your skin from ageing. You can still enjoy sunny holidays whist being very sun aware- Ask any dermatologist!

If you have any doubt, get your moles checked out.

I hope that helps!

Best wishes

Dr Edward Seaton
Dr Ed Seaton
Consultant Dermatologist and British Skin Foundation spokesperson
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Dr Ed Seaton
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