To start off you need a few things
- Good lighting
- A friend to help you see the areas you can’t see
- A camera to take photographs with, even a phone camera.
Areas to examine:
Start with the scalp hair as moles can occur in hidden areas too. Then the back of the neck.
Then look at the ear
- Behind the ear
- Inside the ear
- And on top of the ear, or the helical rim
Then the face, which is divided into upper third, middle third and lower third. The lower eyelid and the lower lip are common sites of skin cancers as they tend to catch more sun.
- Don’t forget the temples.
- Move on to the front of the neck
- Then the chest area, then tummy area.
- Then the front and the back of the arms
- The hands and in between the fingers are often forgotten. Also, the nails and the finger tips.
- Then I would move on to the back, here you definitely need a friend.
- Then the front and the back of the legs
The feet and in between the toes should be checked. Moles of the soles of the feet, like the hands are very important as they can thicken quite a lot, before you notice they have changed due to the thick skin in this area. Don’t forget to check the toe nails too.
Moving on to areas covered by underwear. Don’t forget to check these too as melanomas can occur in areas never exposed to the sun.
How to spot a suspicious mole
We call this the ABCDE of moles.
- A stands for Asymmetry. Which means if you draw a line through it, You cannot get a mirror image
- B stands for Border irregularity
- C stands for multiple colours such as brown, black, red, blue and white. You can even have grey. Keep in mind that some melanomas lack pigment, which means they are skin or tan coloured.
- D stands for a diameter greater than 6mm, although lesions that are suspicious should be investigated before they get to this size
- E Stands for evolving. This means changes in shape, size, colour, surface or the development of symptoms.
Look out for new worrying symptoms such as pain, bleeding or ulceration
Remember: only half of melanomas occur in pre-existing moles, the other half arise where there wasn’t anything there before. So keep an eye out for new moles.
Role of photography
For a record of what the mole looks like, it’s a good idea to take a photograph, ideally with a ruler marking, so that you can compare subsequent checks to that original photo.
Please take this as general advice and remember, anything suspicious, please get it checked out!