Most moles are harmless, but there are exceptions. That’s why it’s important to know the signs of a suspicious mole so you can have it checked out.
Moles with certain characteristics can be a sign of skin cancer, which is the most common cancer in the United States. You should check your skin monthly and report new moles to your dermatology provider. This is especially important if you have a history of skin cancer.
At Hines Dermatology, board-certified dermatologist and dermatopathologist Yvonne Hines, MD, and our top-quality team can help you take the best care of your skin. Everyone of all skin types and tones can get skin cancer, including individuals with darker skin.
Take a moment to learn what to look out for and when to have a skin doctor look at your mole.
Melanoma warning signs
Melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer. It grows rapidly and can spread to other organs. Early detection significantly increases the chances of successful cure. The five-year survival rate when melanoma is detected early is 99%.
Pay attention to any new, unusual, or changing moles or brown spots. Melanoma can develop anywhere on the body, but most commonly arises on the legs for women and the trunk for men.
We use an easy-to-remember acronym of ABCDE to outline the warning signs of melanoma to look out for.
A – Asymmetry
Melanomas are usually asymmetrical. When you look at the mole, the two parts of the lesion don't match. Draw an imaginary line across the center of the mole. Does it look the same on both sides? If, say, one side is jagged or looks different in some other way, get it checked out!
B – Border
Look for irregular borders when checking your moles for suspicious characteristics. Melanoma borders are typically irregular, with notched margins, whereas normal moles have smoother, more equal borders.
C – Color
A mole with different colors is a red flag. Normal moles are usually a single shade of brown. On the other hand, melanomas can have diverse colors, including red, and white. Additionally, you should have any mole that is darker than others looked at.
D – Diameter
Take a look at the size of your mole. Any mole that is the size of a pencil eraser (approximately 6 mm in diameter) or greater is a red flag.
E – Evolving
Changing moles are a warning sign. If your mole changes in shape, color, or size, it’s best to have it evaluated. Additionally, treat any new symptoms like bleeding, itching, or crusting suspiciously.
If you have a mole that concerns you, schedule a visit with Dr. Hines to have it evaluated. You can reach us at our Attleboro, Massachusetts, office at 508-222-1976 or book online. Another option is to send a message to Dr. Hines and the team here on our website.