Everyone has moles on some part of their body. You may be born with moles or they may develop as you grow older. Just because you have moles, it does not mean that you are likely to develop skin cancer.
Moles are simply growths on the skin. These moles may be brown or black. A mole can be found anywhere on the body and they may appear alone or in a group.
Most moles are not a problem. The only time you should worry about a mole would be if it looks different than other moles on your body. Moles that appear after the age of twenty need to be monitored closely for any changes.
It is best to examine your moles on a regular basis. Use a mirror or ask for help from your spouse or a friend. Take note of any changes in size, color or shape. A mole that is itching, bleeding or sore needs to be checked by your physician immediately.
A good way to determine if a mole should be a concern is to use the ABCDEs. This is simply a way of measuring your moles to see if they need to be further evaluated by a doctor.
The A stands for asymmetry. If one half of the mole does not match the other half then it should be checked out. Asymmetrical moles are more likely to have under gone a change that can result in skin cancer.
The B stands for border. If the outside edges of the mole are irregular, ragged or blurred, it can be cause for concern.
The C stands for color. Have a mole checked if the color of it is not the same throughout. Be wary of any moles that have shades of tan, red, white, black, blue or brown.
The D stands for diameter. If the diameter of the mole is larger than an eraser on a pencil, you should have it checked.
The E stands for elevation. You should be concerned if a portion of the mole is elevated or higher than the skin. Some moles are naturally elevated from the skin but it should be minimal. If the elevation grows or any other aspect of the mole changes over time this is also cause to have it evaluated by your physician.
Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that is often detected by the change in a mole. Although one of the most aggressive and invasive types of skin cancer, a melanoma can be cured when the cancer is caught early.
A mole that is suspicious may be removed or a portion of it will be removed for a biopsy. A biopsy will be able to tell if the mole is cancerous.
If a mole is found to be cancerous, your doctor will have to remove the entire mole and some of the normal skin surrounding it. This is a fairly simple procedure and the wound will be stitched closed after it is finished.
The most common location for melanoma in men is the back. The most common location for melanoma to appear in women is the lower leg.
It is always a good idea to keep a close eye on any moles that you may have. At the first hint of a change in your moles, see your doctor right away. Early detection is the key to curing skin cancer.
National Cancer Insitute: Common Moles, Neoplastic Nevi and Melanoma
Skin Cancer Foundation: Dysplastic Nevi (Atypical Moles)
MD Anderson Cancer Center: Holy Mole-y! 9 Reasons to have a skin check-up
MDAnderson Cancer Insitute: Skin Cancer Uncover that Mole