Almost all adults have moles. In most cases, these moles are harmless. However, new or changing moles are signs of melanoma, a fast-growing and deadly form of skin cancer.
How do you know the difference between a harmless mole and a cancerous one? The ABCDE method.
At A to Z Dermatology of Mesa, Sun City, Casa Grande, Gold Canyon, and Chandler, Arizona, our team of expert dermatologists take skin cancer very seriously because we live in one of the sunniest states in the country.
Here, we want to talk about your moles and how to use the ABCDE method to tell the difference between a harmless mole and one that may potentially be cancerous.
Moles are brown or black growths with a distinct appearance. However, not all moles look alike. You can have a wide range of moles on your own skin that differ in size, shape, and color.
Some moles are flat and smooth with a well-defined border, while others are raised and rough spots with an irregular border.
A benign (noncancerous) normal mole may have the following characteristics:
Moles can appear anywhere on your body, from your scalp to under your fingernails. In general, healthy moles always look the same, but may change very slowly, or fade away over a period of time.
Though you may consider the large, prominent mole on your forearm abnormal, it may not be harmful to your health or need removal unless its appearance bothers you. However, if a mole appears quickly, changes rapidly, bleeds, or becomes itchy, painful, or tender to the touch, then you may consider this a potentially harmful abnormal mole.
The best way to know what’s normal and what’s abnormal in terms of moles, is to do a skin self-exam every month. Knowing about your moles, including their appearance and their location on your body, is the first step in identifying any worrisome changes, including new, fast-growing moles.
Abnormal moles are signs of melanoma. When left undiagnosed and untreated, melanoma is life-threatening.
Because melanoma is fast-growing and a danger to your health, we recommend you check your moles using the ABCDE method. The ABCDE method is a tool all health professionals use and recommend when looking for signs of the very serious skin cancer.
ABCDE for moles means:
If you notice any abnormal moles, it’s time to schedule an appointment with one of our skilled dermatologists for an evaluation. We can determine if the mole is in fact abnormal and remove it right away and send it to the pathology lab for an evaluation.
Or, we can remove the mole if you simply dislike how it affects your look.
Moles are normal, but need continuous monitoring. Using the ABCDE method at home is a good tool to help you stay on top of your skin health.
When you find an abnormal growth, we can provide the care you need. Call us or book an appointment online at the office closest to you to schedule your skin exam.