Common ailments

Moles and melanoma

I am 48 year old man and I have recently noticed that one of the larger moles on the back of my neck has started to feel quite sore and itchy. A couple of days ago it also started to bleed, though I don’t recall scratching it or doing anything that might have caused it to bleed. Should I be worried?


Over time, moles can change in number and appearance. In women for example, such changes are often in response to hormonal changes such as pregnancy. Though most moles are harmless, they can in rare cases develop into a form of skin cancer known as melanoma. This is why it is important to keep an eye on your moles and check them once in a while for changes which might indicate the onset of melanoma.

Melanoma usually appears as a small dark patch either on a clear part of skin or on or around an existing mole. Though melanoma can be caused by a family history of the skin cancer or having a weakened immune system, you are at an increased risk of getting a melanoma if you have extended exposure to the sun or to sun beds because of the ultraviolet radiation emitted by these. Around 6 in 10 cases of melanoma are thought to be caused by UV damage and children and people with fair hair/skin are at most risk.

Generally, changes you should look out for in your moles include uneven colouring (many different shades rather than just one or two), uneven or ragged edges, bleeding, itching, redness, swelling or scabbing, and moles that appear to be getting much bigger in size or which have become raised or bumpy.

Moles can sometimes feel sensitive, particularly if they are rubbing against clothing. Perhaps the collars on some of your clothing are rubbing against the mole on your neck causing sensitivity and bleeding. Alternatively, the sensitivity may indicate that the mole is growing in size. In any event, and especially as there has been some bleeding, I would urge you to visit your GP as soon as possible. Your GP will examine your mole and may refer you to a dermatologist at the hospital for a biopsy to decide whether the mole needs to be removed.



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