Skin Cancer Awareness Month is here, and you know what that means! It’s time to kick education and prevention into high gear. One of the most important aspects of skin cancer prevention is mole evaluation. So let’s celebrate this month right and get our moles evaluated!
Though some moles are classified as beauty marks, it’s still important to pay attention to them. Certain moles can be dangerous and even a sign of skin cancer. However, before you start panicking about every mole on your body, it’s important to understand that only certain types of moles are potentially cancerous. That’s why evaluations are necessary. With a quick examination, a dermatologist can tell whether or not you're at an immediate risk for skin cancer.
Dermatologists follow a very simple method to determine if a mole is problematic. It’s called the ABCDE method:
A - Asymmetry: If a mole is asymmetrical, meaning if you draw a line down the middle and one side is different from the other, then that mole may actually be a skin cancer or melanoma, a type of skin cancer.
B - Border: Safe moles have clear and defined borders. Melanomas, on the other hand, will have uneven and even blurry borders.
C - Color: A healthy mole should have the same color all over. If the mole has different colors, it may be a melanoma.
D - Diameter: A good rule of thumb is that healthy moles should be smaller than a pencil eraser. Melanomas tend to be larger.
E - Evolving: Moles don’t usually change. They stay the same size, color, and shape. If it starts changing or “evolving,” then it’s not a mole and more likely a melanoma.
Dermatologists evaluate moles using this scale. That’s why it’s also important to go for skin cancer screenings once a year. If you get evaluated, your dermatologist may be able to see any changes that could be potentially dangerous (aka cancerous).
When you’re not heading to the dermatologist for your evaluation, you can actually examine yourself. Since you know what to look out for, you can give yourself an exam and report any findings (hopefully none) to your dermatologist.
To give yourself a proper evaluation, you will need a large mirror and possibly a handheld one. Standing in front of the large mirror, you can carefully scan your body to find any moles on your skin that you do not recall having. If you come across one, you can use the smaller mirror to get a closer look. Use the ABCDE method to determine if that mole is something you should be worried about.
While examining yourself is a good way to stay on top of any possible changes, it’s still important to see your dermatologist once a year.
If you happen to be in the Cincinnati, Ohio area, then you’re in luck! Our experts at The Dermatology Group can offer you advice, resources, and mole treatment during Skin Cancer Awareness Month and beyond. Give us a call today!