When to Worry: Red Flags That Your Mole Could Be Cancerous

If you believe the researchers from London’s King’s College, people with lots of moles live longer. But not all moles are benign. It’s important to keep an eye on moles that don’t look or feel quite right and seek out a health professional if you believe that those changes have become dangerous. When it comes to skin cancer, early detection and treatment are crucial.

Regular Self-Examinations Are Important

It’s important for a person to examine their moles from time to time to catch any suspicious changes. Dermatologists recommend patients use the ABCDE method to check their moles. Here is what that means.

A Means Asymmetry. When you cut a mole down the middle, both halves should be around the same size and shape. If they’re not, the mole is asymmetrical, and this could be a sign of skin cancer. This is something to keep an eye on.

B Means Check the Borders. Normal moles usually have smooth borders that are well-defined. Moles with borders that are irregular or fuzzy should be watched.

C Means Color. A normal mole is all one color. Skin cancers are often more than one color.

D is for Diameter. Skin cancers, especially melanomas, are often suspiciously large. A normal mole should really be no larger than 6 millimeters or 0.24 inches around.

E is for Evolution. Once it appears, a normal mole usually stays the same for much of your life. A cancerous mole continues to change or evolve. These changes involve the other four characteristics of asymmetry, borders, color and diameter. Another thing to be mindful of when checking a mole is its feel. Cancerous moles are firm and lumpy, and they may bleed, crust over then bleed again. Also, melanomas don’t just affect areas exposed to sunlight.

What Are the Risk Factors for Skin Cancer?

Skin cancer can affect anyone no matter their skin color. However, some people are more at risk for skin cancer than others. Here are factors that increase your risk of skin cancer.

  • Light skin that easily burns or develops freckles when exposed to the sun
  • Eyes that are blue or green
  • Close family members who had skin cancer
  • Having had skin cancer before
  • Red or blonde hair
  • Advanced age

If you have these risk factors, make sure that you check or have your physician check for suspicious moles or changes in your moles. Even if you don’t have these risk factors, it’s still a good idea to check now and then.

Attend regular dermatology appointments

In addition to conducting self exams to moniter any changes in your skin that could be a sign of skin cancer, it is important to attend your annual or regularly scheduled dermatology appointments. At these appointments your dermatologist can thoroughly examine your skin to catch any spots that you might have missed. You dermatologist has a trained eye for recognizing pots on the skin that might be a sign of something more serious. This is especially important for individuals that spend a lot of time in the sun due to their profession or where they live. This is also important for those who have a large number of moles and those who have a family history of melanoma.

Schedule Your Skin Cancer Screening Today

If you’ve noticed a mole that has begun to display the ABCDE symptoms above or a lesion that feels hard and keeps bleeding, don’t hesitate to schedule a skin cancer screening. Call for a screening at Clear Dermatology or fill out our online contact form to schedule a consultation today.