Molly-Mae Hague diagnosed with malignant melanoma: What is it and what are the signs of skin cancer?

‘Get your moles checked’, urges Love Island star

Sarah Young
Friday 06 November 2020 13:01
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Molly-Mae Hague reveals mole she had removed from her leg was cancerous

Love Island star Molly-May Hague has revealed that a mole she had removed from her leg was cancerous.

Earlier this month, the 21-year-old began raising awareness on social media about the importance of getting moles checked after a doctor said a mole on her leg needed to be removed.

In a new YouTube video titled 'I FOUND OUT MY MOLE WAS CANCEROUS', the influencer shared her own experience, explaining that she initially got the mole checked by two dermatologists but was told it was nothing to worry about.

However, she eventually sought a third opinion during a routine check-up because she “felt something wasn't quite right”. In the video, Hague shared the moment a doctor gave her the results of the biopsy via telephone, telling her that it was malignant melanoma and she would require further surgery.

The reality star later explained her surgery had been delayed as doctors were unsure whether it was the skin cancer in question and needed to confirm it. She is expecting to receive the results in three weeks as her mole is being flown out to specialists in America.

Molly-Mae Hague opened up about her recent diagnosis in a Youtube video

“The main message of this vlog that you need to understand is to get your moles checked,” she said. “I cannot stress this enough. Use your initiative and be smart. If I hadn't I could have been in serious trouble.”

So what exactly is melanoma and what are the early signs of the skin cancer? Here’s everything you need to know.

What is melanoma?

Melanoma, also known as malignant melanoma, is a type of skin cancer that can spread to other organs in the body.

Melanomas are less common than non-melanoma skin cancers, but they are one of the most dangerous forms of skin cancer, according to the British Skin Foundation.

They can develop from existing moles, but they more often appear as new marks on the skin, the charity says.

They can appear anywhere on the body, but the most commonly affected areas are the back in men and the legs in women.

What causes melanoma?

According to the NHS, melanoma is caused by skin cells that begin to develop abnormally.

Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun is thought to cause most melanomas, but there's evidence to suggest that some may also result from sunbed exposure.

The type of sun exposure that causes melanoma is sudden intense exposure. For example, while on holiday, which leads to sunburn.

Who is most at risk?

Melanoma skin cancer is the fifth most common cancer in the UK, with around 16,000 new cases diagnosed each year, the NHS states.

More than one in four skin cancer cases are diagnosed in people under 50, which is unusually early compared with most other types of cancer.

Certain things can increase your chance of developing melanoma, such as having:

  • lots of moles or freckles
  • pale skin that burns easily
  • red or blonde hair
  • a close family member who’s had melanoma

What are the signs and symptoms of melanoma?

The most common sign of melanoma is the appearance of a new mole or a change in an existing mole. This can happen anywhere on the body, but the most commonly affected areas are the back in men and the legs in women.

Melanomas are uncommon in areas that are protected from sun exposure, such as the buttocks, the NHS explains.

In most cases, melanomas have an irregular shape and are more than one colour. The mole may also be larger than normal, can sometimes be itchy or bleed, and can gradually change shape, size or colour.

You should speak to a doctor as soon as possible if you become aware of any changes to moles on your body.

How do I check for skin cancer at home?

It is recommended that people examine their skin on a monthly basis in a well-lit room with a full-length mirror.

Speaking to the BBC, dermatologist and British Skin Foundation spokesperson Dr Anjali Mahto advises looking “closely at the entire body including the scalp, buttocks and genitalia, palms and soles including the spaces between the fingers and toes”, with help from a trusted individual if needed.

Other signs to look out for include any new moles, a mole that looks significantly different to the others or any skin lesion that bleeds or fails to heal.

“Any concerns should prompt a visit to a dermatologist who will perform a full skin examination and may go on to either excise a mole or take a sample or biopsy of any unusual growths or patches on the skin,” Dr Mahto adds.

The acronym ABCDE can also help establish if moles need to be checked.

  • Asymmetry - one half of mole is different to the other
  • Border - irregular, scalloped or poorly defined edge
  • Colour - uneven colour or variable colours within mole
  • Diameter - mole bigger than 6mm (quarter of an inch) in size
  • Evolving - mole changing in size, shape or colour

It is important to remember that a melanoma does not always fit the ABCDE rule. If you notice anything different or are concerned, you should seek medical advice.

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