Would you know what to look for in spotting a cancerous mole on your body? Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. If you have a lot of moles, you are about 10 times more at risk for developing skin cancer, or melanoma. Melanoma only accounts for about 4% of skin cancer cases, but it is the cause of an astounding 79% of skin cancer deaths. Since this vicious cancer usually starts with a changing or growing skin mole, it can be lifesaving for you to know how to give yourself a proper self exam.
You can spot a cancerous mole by knowing these simple “ABCDE” warning signs:
- Asymmetry – If your mole is asymmetrical or has unequal halves it is suspicious.
- Border — If the mole’s border is irregular, notched, scalloped or indistinct, it is more likely to be cancerous (or precancerous).
- Color – A variation of color within a mole is cause for concern.
- Diameter — Any mole that has a diameter larger than a pencil’s eraser in size (> 6 mm) should be professionally examined.
- Elevation – If the mole is elevated or raised, it is considered a suspicious mole.
The presence of one or more of these ABCDE warning signs are reason enough to seek a professional examination from a dermatologist.
The key to successfully treating melanoma is early detection. The American Cancer Society recommends monthly skin self exams and a clinical skin exam by a dermatologist every three years for people older than 20 and every year for people older than 40. Knowing how to spot a cancerous mole and scheduling a quick office visit at your dermatologist for a skin cancer screening could save your life.