Skin cancer symptoms: Five signs your mole could actually be skin cancer

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Skin cancer can be tricky to spot – especially on people with too many moles to count. How does skin cancer expert Dr Anastasia Therianou identify a suspicious patch of skin?

"We're trained to use a non-invasive tool called a dermatoscope," Dr Therianou began.

"This tool gives more specific information of the changes we see over time."

It takes 15 years to train as a consultant dermatologist, and the doctor attested: "We are the most qualified specialists for skin cancers."

C is for colour

Does your mole have uneven colour or multiple colours? Benign [non-cancerous] moles are a single colour.

But a melanoma [cancerous mole] may have different shades of brown, tan or black. Red, white or blue may also appear in a melanoma.

D is for diameter or dark

Is your mole larger than a pea? If so you will need to get it checked. Equally, any mole that is darker than others could be a sign of melanoma.

E is for evolving

Has your mole changed recently? Familiarise yourself with the appearance of your moles so you can notice changes as they occur.


Don't forget to look out for the "ugly duckling" – a mole that is distinctly different from the rest of your moles.

Dr Therianou encourages questions, such as: "Is it larger, smaller, lighter or darker than your other moles?"

She added: "Equally, a mole that has no other moles near it could be a warning sign of melanoma."

The consultant dermatologist had another pointer: "A slow-growing mole in a patient under 40 is likely to be harmless."

"Eighty-five percent of skin cancer is called basal cell carcinoma (BCC)," Dr Therianou explained.

Although most BCCs appear on parts of the skin that have been exposed to the sun, "skin cancers can arise anywhere on the body".

"Even on the vulval area or the buttocks," Dr Therianou continued.

Irregardless of location, "most of the moles suspected to be cancerous are taken out surgically under local anaesthetic," she concluded.