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Lenja asked...

How can I monitor my moles?

Tags: Cancer , Skin

My father has recently been diagnosed with melanoma in the U.S. Doctors there said it's genetic and his children should be checked. I am 50 and have quite a few moles on my chest and back. I would like to be thoroughly examined now and on a regular basis in the future. As you can imagine, it's very hard for me to examine moles on my back.

I have visited GP's before about this a few years ago. The first time the GP said there wasn't anything to worry about. The second time a GP said I should photograph the moles and check them myself. I would prefer to be checked by an expert. What do you suggest?

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The answer

At the moment regular screening can be carried out for people with a previous history of skin cancers but there aren’t currently any formal screening processes for people with no disease.

In your situation it may be worthwhile asking your GP to perform a thorough initial assessment and also ensure that they are aware of your family history and of what your father’s doctors have said about the genetic element of his melanoma. Once that assessment has been performed you could then continue to monitor the moles on your chest for any changes in size, colour, shape or density and also for any signs of bleeding. If you do detect any of these changes they would then merit further investigation and clinical assessment.

In terms of the moles on your back which are less easy to see, perhaps you could ask a friend or partner to check them for you periodically for the same changes described above. A photograph of the back can also be useful as a tool to compare. Please don’t forget that you can also always ask the practice nurse at your surgery to look at your moles as well if ever you are worried or just want a professional eye but did not wish to trouble your GP.

Finally, given your family history you could ask your GP to consider a referral to a dermatology specialist for an initial assessment of your moles and recommendations for frequency of monitoring these areas in addition. I hope this information will be helpful and wish you the best of luck.

Answered by Health at Hand nurses.


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