Just a mole or skin cancer? Identifying Melanoma.

When living in states with high instances of melanoma such Florida, it is important to know the difference between a simple mole and a dangerous instance of melanoma. An estimated 40% to 50% of fair skinned people who live to be 65 will develop at least one skin cancer. Moles themselves are benign melanocytes, simple cells that give the skin it’s color. The difference between the benign mole and melanoma is often not easy to spot. It is recommended that everyone gets a yearly skin cancer screening from a dermatologist to prevent the progression of skin cancer.

When is a mole a danger to you?

Most moles, whether they are small, big, raised, or smooth are completely harmless. You should begin to worry when the mole becomes larger than a pencil eraser and is rough to the touch, peaked, or contains many colors. “New” moles should also be monitored. Most moles develop before adulthood and any new moles are cause for suspicion.

Atypical vs Asymmetrical:

atypical mole

Atypical moles are not cancer, but they can become cancer. They can be found in sun-exposed or sun-protected areas of the body. Atypical moles may be larger (one-quarter inch across or larger) and more irregular in shape, with notched or fading borders. 

asymmetric mole

Asymmetrical moles are also cause for concern. The general rule is, if the mole doesn’t have exact symmetry then it should be checked by a dermatologist.

Use the ABCDE’s of moles:

A: Atypical and Asymmetrical.

B: Borders: are they uneven, ragged, or irregular.

C: Color: a normal mole is a single shade of color. If you see different colors of red, pink, brown, black, white, or blue you need to have it checked.

D: Diameter: If it’s bigger than a pencil eraser, have it checked.

E: Evolving: Is it changing shape, becoming raised, changing color, or beginning to itch or bleed? Have it checked.

Ideally, it’s always a good plan to do a skin cancer screening once per year to keep from developing melanoma. To schedule yours with Dr. Blatnoy simply fill out the schedule request form here.