Dangerous Moles: When Is a Mole Considered a Sign of Skin Cancer?
Nearly every adult has at least a few moles. Some are present at birth, but most appear later in childhood. For many, moles are just another thing that makes us unique and interesting, like the color of our hair or the shape of our noses.
The problem with moles arises when a common mole turns into a potentially dangerous one. Dangerous moles can be a sign of melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer. To ensure you know how to spot the difference between a normal mole and a dangerous one, we’ve put together a clear guide including some tips to help with identification.
Moles and Skin Cancer
Are Moles Dangerous?
Most moles are perfectly harmless. Generally, normal moles are one uniform color with a distinct border separating the surrounding skin from the mole. They’re round or oval and usually smaller than 1/4 inch in diameter. Most moles will start appearing during childhood, with a few new moles forming up until the age of 40.
When Is a Mole Dangerous?
While the majority of moles are not dangerous or cancerous, it’s still important to be aware of changes in your existing moles or newly developed pigmented patches. Moles can and do change in appearance over time, but a dangerous mole is an existing one that has grown in size or that has changed shape or color. If you’re looking for how to spot a dangerous mole, they may also have evolved to develop new signs and symptoms including bleeding or itchiness.
The ABCDEs of Dangerous Moles
Dangerous moles vary greatly in appearance, but there are a few ways to spot their characteristics. An easy guide that you can use to identify the warning signs of dangerous moles is to use the first five letters of the alphabet:
- A is for Asymmetry, as most melanomas are asymmetrical
- B is for Border, as dangerous moles tend to be uneven or have notched or scalloped edges
- C is for Color, since most normal moles are uniform in color
- D is for Dark, because it’s important to look for any lesion that is darker than others
- E is for Evolving, as any change in shape, elevation, size, or color may be a warning sign
Most skin cancers are curable when detected early and with the right treatment. This can include an initial skin biopsy to remove the growth or freezing if small enough. Surgery or more extensive therapy may be required depending on the severity of the melanoma.
The Dangerous Mole Experts
Finding dangerous moles at an early stage is crucial, and while there are many signs to look out for, a visit to a doctor can be the difference between spotting one or completely missing one. A skin cancer doctor or dermatologist will be able to conduct a thorough examination from head to toe. If you’re in any doubt over any existing moles or lesions, contact us at The Dermatology Group today for a full evaluation.