Can You Spot a Cancerous Mole?

14 Mar 2022 | Category: Medical

As seen in Live Well Live Longer magazine

Magazine ‘Live Well, Live Longer’ asked UK mole expert Dr Ross Perry to provide his expert advice for its feature on how to recognise a suspicious mole.

Most moles are harmless and will look the same for many years, but as Dr Ross Perry explains, there’s no place for complacency.

“…in theory, all moles have the potential to change into a skin cancer.”

This means that it’s important to check all your moles regularly, even those that you’ve had as long as you can remember.

As Dr Perry told writer Faye M Smith:

“The majority of melanoma cases in adults are new moles, usually due to either long-term or short periods of over-exposure to the sun.

“UVB rays penetrate less deeply and cause sunburn, while UVA rays go deeper into the skin, causing longer-term invisible damage.”

If your skin burns, then that’s a sign that it’s been damaged by overexposure to UV radiation.

However, it’s also important to check those areas that aren’t regularly exposed to the sun – even under the nails. Look for a persistent dark spot or streak.

Signs of a suspicious mole

The feature summarises the potential characteristics of an ‘abnormal’ mole. It could be one or more of the following:

  • Asymmetry One half of the mole is different to the other.
  • Border Irregular, scalloped or poorly defined edge.
  • Colour Uneven colour or variable colours within a mole.
  • Diameter The mole is bigger than 6mm in size (roughly a petit pois size).
  • Evolving The mole is changing in its size, shape or colour.

Dr Ross Perry refers to it as the ‘ugly duckling’ sign – suspicious moles tend to be a bit different compared to the others you’re used to.

In case of concern, the first step is to visit the GP to assess the mole and either rule out skin cancer or arrange a referral as appropriate.

If the mole is harmless then you can choose whether to keep it or get it removed for cosmetic reasons. Dr Ross Perry says:

“As long as the moles are not overly numerous or irregular in colour or shape then there is no positive or negative to having them.”

Many people choose to have large or unsightly moles removed for peace of mind. Dr Ross says this won’t reduce the risk of skin cancer in the future:

“Moles can be safely removed for cosmetic purposes but it won’t decrease your risk of skin cancer. This is because 70% of all melanomas are NEW moles. So removing moles to reduce your skin cancer risk is not advisable.”

However, mole removal for cosmetic reasons – to get rid of the blemish – is a very common procedure and one which Cosmedics Skin Clinics carry out in great number. As leading UK providers of mole removal, the company has a team of expert doctors and surgeons who offer mole removal treatment using pain-free techniques and minimal scarring results.

Mole removal consultation

The first step is to arrange a private mole check consultation appointment with one of Cosmedics’ doctors or surgeons. They will assess the blemish and advise on the best course of treatment. They’ll also outline what to expect in terms of recovery and aftercare as well as the type of result patients can expect.


Dr Ross Perry

doctor ross perry

Ross qualified in 1994 at Guy’s & St Thomas’ Hospital Medical School, London. His career includes NHS skin cancer reconstruction, work as a GP, as well as private cosmetic skin treatments.

He established Cosmedics Skin Clinics in 2003 and remains in charge as Medical Director. He is renowned for natural-looking use of non-surgical cosmetic and anti-ageing injections and is especially well known for dealing with unwanted skin lesions and blemishes (e.g. moles, cysts, warts skin tags).

Dr Ross Perry is frequently called upon by the media for his expert insights and comments on skin and beauty-related issues.



Cosmedics Skin Clinics

Cosmedics Skin Clinics was established in 2003. Over the last 19 years, it has built up an excellent reputation for cosmetic and medical skin treatments.

The company offer a full range of cosmetic treatments, including popular lip enhancement and wrinkle relaxing injections, dermal fillers. In addition, there is a range of medical treatments including mole removal, thread vein treatment and excessive sweating injections.

Cosmedics Skin Clinics has 5 skin clinics across London and Bristol. Treatments are carried out by GMC Registered Doctors and Surgeons.

Call 020 7386 0464 or email to book an appointment.

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