Most of us don’t give moles a second thought. These small, dark dots that appear randomly throughout our life or were there when we were born don’t seem to have much significance. For many of us, these moles are simply just characteristics. Yet, it is this nonchalant attitude toward moles that can easily open the door for undetected skin cancer. This is why mole evaluations are so important. While it is absolutely necessary that you see your dermatologist for your annual skin cancer screening, it’s also important that you inspect the moles on your body and look for signs of skin cancer. It may sound like a complicated task, but trust us when we say that it’s as easy as ABC. Here’s how to inspect moles on your body and spot skin cancer before it becomes a problem.
In order to properly inspect your moles, there are a few tools you need to have handy: a small mirror, a large mirror, and a helper (optional). The key is to find and take note of any and all moles on your body. The mirrors and your helper will help you find moles in hard to see areas like your back, buttocks, back of legs, and the back of your neck. Once you’ve found all of your moles, you now need to carefully inspect them for tell-tale signs of melanoma.
You certainly do not have to be an expert to spot these signs. When inspecting a mole, you simply need to use the ABCDE rule. This rule gives you five things to look for when evaluating a mole. If you notice any of these characteristics, it’s imperative that you contact a dermatologist right away.
There’s one major characteristic that all moles have: they are symmetrical. This means that if you split the mole in half, right down the middle, then both sides will be identical. Melanomas, however, are asymmetrical. No matter how it differs, if both sides of the “mole” don’t look alike, then it’s most likely not a mole.
Moles are known for having smooth, perfectly round edges with well-defined borders. Melanomas, on the other hand, have ragged, undefined, and even blurry edges. So even if it looks like a mole, if you notice that the edges aren’t smooth and rounded, point it out to your dermatologist.
Color is very important when it comes to evaluating moles for the potential presence of skin cancer. A healthy, non-threatening mole has one solid color. No matter what shade of black or brown it is, moles are a single color. Melanomas, however, may be two-toned or have blotches of different colors.
The size of your mole can tell you so much, but the most important piece of information it can offer is whether or not it’s actually melanoma. Melanoma moles are typically larger than 6mm, the size of a standard pencil eraser.
Moles rarely change over time. Sure, they may appear out of nowhere, but once they’re present, they look similar to other moles and do not change in appearance. Melanomas, on the other hand, evolve. They may grow, change complexion, lose their border, and more. Evolution is the easiest way to spot a melanoma.
This is why it is important to have your moles evaluated often. If you and/or your dermatologist takes note of your “mole” in the first year, it’ll be easy to spot any changes the following year. Even when you are evaluating yourself, never forget to go in for skin cancer screening to get professionally evaluated.
If you are in Cincinnati, Ohio, then you have the perfect place to go for your screening and/or mole treatment. Our experts at The Dermatology Group are here to carry out your screenings and offer treatment if need be. Give us a call today!