[unpaid/ad] Having my moles checked has been on my list of things to do but kept being pushed to the bottom over and over again. But, with the growth of a new mole on my chest I just felt it had to be put to the front. So I headed off to The Mole Clinic in Argyll Street, just off Oxford Circus to have my whole body checked.
Other than my GP casting a cursory glance on one particular dark mole over the years I’ve never had a full body check and so didn’t know what to expect. It’s such a professional process that is done in a specific sequence in front of a full length mirror that you never feel awkward or self-conscious. I mean, standing in your bra and pants in front of a complete stranger is never going to feel exactly normal, but the skin specialist nurse I saw, Claire, was so matter of fact that it didn’t feel as weird as perhaps it might. The only embarrassing thing was that I lost a sock in the getting dressed process and we both ended up on hands and knees trying to find it!
There’s an education element to the process as well as a health one. Claire went over my body starting with the head, progressing to arms and torso then legs and back, with an illuminated magnifier called a Derma Scope. I was talked through the whole skin check and it was done quite quickly, perhaps 20 minutes or so although the more moles you have, the longer it will take. There was only one cause for minor concern which was the aforementioned dark mole on my leg. If there is a mole that causes concern or warrants more investigation, a little sticker with mm and cm marks are stuck next to it and a photo is taken so that when it is sent off to the clinic’s skin specialist doctors they have an idea of its size. They’ll recommend further action if it is needed. Each individual mole assessment with the specialist is £30 and the body check is £150.
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It turns out that I have Seborrhoic Keratoses, Junctional Moles (flat), Compound Moles (raised), Freckles, Cherry Hemangiomas and Solar Lentigo (sun spots). In other words, pretty normal skin for my age (see board above)! I was sent away with leaflets and verbal advice (reiterated in the leaflets) about the ABCDE Rule. A – Asymmetry (the two halves don’t match), B – Border (is it jagged), C – Colour (is it uneven?), D – Diameter (is it 6mm or more?) and E – Evolution (is it changing over time?). There’s also the Ugly Duckling rule – if you have a mole that looks significantly different to any others on your body, you may want to have it checked. Finally, if you have any sores on your skin that won’t heal and keep coming back, time for a specialist or doctor check.
It’s recommended that you have an annual check – given I have gone through all my life so far without one, I’m not sure if I’ll do it as standard. I will keep a better eye out though – that’s the biggest thing that stood out to me .. the moment an expert or professional looks at your concerns, they’re not something you can brush off or ignore any more – it makes them more real. So, if it’s only to remind you to check or to consider moles more seriously, try to go at least once and then see. My results (earlier than predicted) came back as normal with only the mole on my leg recommended for a further check in 3 months. It’s normal practice for The Mole Clinic to phone you before emailing so don’t be alarmed if that happens or you get a text asking you to call them back. That mole hasn’t changed for 20 years so I’ll just keep an eye on it and go back if there are changes. There are several clinics across the UK which you can find HERE.
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