Keep moles under control
Most moles are harmless but it is important to check them regularly to make sure that none has changed in any way (see below). YOU Magazine reader Jenny Quirke, 53, was shocked when her cousin developed malignant melanoma (skin cancer) in her early 40s after ignoring a raised and discoloured mole on her shoulder. She died just two years later. ‘Her death proved how important it is to keep a close eye on our moles,’ says Jenny. ‘As a teenager, I never used sunscreen and frequently got sunburnt. In my 20s I went through a sunbed phase. I started to worry about the damage I’d done to my skin during those years, and decided to get my moles – and those of my daughters Sophie, 20, and Laura, 17 – checked professionally.
‘Although I always made sure Sophie and Laura wore hats and sun cream on holidays, I was concerned they could be at risk.’ Jenny’s family went to the Cadogan Clinic, London, where they saw consultant dermatologist Dr. Alexis Granite. ‘We each filled in a questionnaire about past skin problems, then Dr Granite examined our existing moles. I was worried about one on my back but it was actually a skin tag. Red spots are nothing to be concerned about, she said, and gave Laura and me the all-clear.’ Sophie was a different matter. ‘Dr. Granite found a mole behind her knee that was slightly raised and darker than her others. She recommended it was removed immediately under local anaesthetic. A fine medical razor “shaved” the mole flat against the skin and a small dressing was applied. It took under 15 minutes, was completely painless and the wound healed in under a week.’
Each woman was photographed separately from four angles (mole mapping) to record all existing moles. Jenny and Laura were recommended to revisit in 12 months for new photographs to map any changes, while Sophie needs to be checked in six months. ‘Throughout their childhood I’ve taken my daughters to dentists’ and doctors’ appointments, but never for a mole check,’ says Jenny. ‘I think it should be a routine health precaution for children. Melanoma is a terrible illness and prevention, which is easy, is so important. After our checks, we all have peace of mind.’
• The Cadogan Clinic/0808-274 7120/www.cadoganclinic.com. Full-body mole mapping screenings including a dermatologist consultation cost from £300
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Check for changes and new moles every few months, advises NHS Choices (www.nhs.uk). If you notice moles with any of the following, consult your GP: • Uneven colouring and more than one shade. • A ragged or uneven edge. • Bleeding, itching, inflamed or crusty moles. • Moles that are growing larger than the width of a pencil.
SAFE SUN FOR CHILDREN
● Apply sunscreen generously. Make sure children wear a big hat, T-shirt and sunglasses.
● Babies under six months should never be exposed to the sun.
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