When you see a new mole appear on your skin, it can be easy to immediately assume the worst. However, before you start stressing that your new mole is cancerous, it is wise to learn how to identify cancerous moles from the non-cancerous ones. Remember, only your doctor can make a firm diagnosis, so make sure to consult Dr. Ourian™ if you are having any concerns. Finding a cancerous mole early means that skin cancer is often curable.
Learn the ABCs
When a new spot crops up on your skin or one starts to change appearances, The American Academy of Dermatology suggests to look for these signs of melanoma:
• Asymmetry: If parts of the spot are very different than other parts, that can be a sign of cancer. For example, if one side is darker and raised and the other side is flat, it may be cancerous.
• Border irregularity: When looking at the mole, see if the border is clearly defined and uniform. A sign that it could be cancerous is when the mole has a border that is not very defined, notched or scalloped.
• Color changes: If the spot is multiple colors, then it could be a sign of cancer.
• Diameter: Look at how big the width of the spot. If it’s larger than a pencil eraser, get it checked out by a doctor.
• Evolving: Cancerous moles usually change over time, whether that be color, size, border, etc. For some cancerous moles, this may be the only sign that it is not benign.
Identifying a Non-Cancerous Mole
If finding a cancerous mole does not lead to any of the above symptoms, it may just a regular mole. Moles come in many shapes and sizes, and a majority of the time they are not cancerous. A non-cancerous mole will have the following characteristics:
• Small, about the width of a pencil eraser
• Round or oval, with a distinct edge
• Even color, usually brown, tan or pink
• A common mole usually begins as a flat, smooth spot that may become raised over time
As a person ages, moles can change. They may become flatter, a different color or even disappear completely. It’s a good practice to take a picture of a mole every year so you can notice the changes. Most people have at least ten moles, and some may have up to 40.
Preventing Cancerous Moles
Ultraviolet rays, or UV rays, from the sun play a factor in how many moles a person can have. The more sun exposure a person gets, the more moles they will likely have. And the more moles you have, the more likely you have a cancerous mole. To help prevent the formation of melanoma, stay out of the sun as much as possible. When in direct sunlight, wear protective clothing, a hat and sunscreen. Tanning beds can also produce the same harmful UV rays as the sun, so stay away from those as well.
Why do we Have Moles?
Moles usually develop on a person within the first 20 years of their life; some may also appear later in life. Your skin naturally has clusters of melanocytes, skin cells, that attach to surrounding skin tissue cells. The melanocytes give your skin pigment and are spread evenly throughout the body. A mole forms when there are additional layers of melanocytes in an area. Moles are most likely a product of genetic configuration, and are determined before birth.
When you see a new mole pop up on your skin or see an existing mole change shape or colors, it’s easy to think the worst. However, use the guide above to finding a cancerous mole and go see your doctor in order to determine if it is cancerous.
Epione is located in the heart of Beverly Hills, CA and is a state of the art, comprehensive laser and aesthetic surgery center. The team at Epione works together to restore or create your desired appearance, and the staff is dedicated to providing their patients the highest level of care and attention. We use the latest in technology for hair, skin and body contouring, strive to occupy a special and unique place in the hearts and minds of ourpatients.