In recognition of the month of May as National Skin Cancer Awareness Month, Price Skincare Clinic is running a series of blog posts on Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer in the United States. In this article, we encourage you to know your moles and learn to recognize any changes occurring in them that may indicate skin cancer.
Do you know your moles?
If you’re like most adults, you have 10-40 of the little eraser-shaped brown marks on skin above your waist – especially in areas exposed to the sun.
If you have a mole on your face, you’re in the company of celebrities who have capitalized on what’s known as ‘beauty marks’ including actress Marilyn Monroe and model Cindy Crawford.
But most moles become such a common fixture on the skin that it’s easy to ignore minor changes that can signal the onset of deadly melanoma.
That’s why it’s important to know your moles so well that you can spot telltale signs of impending danger.
Below, we’ll teach you how to recognize the differences between a normal mole and one that may be changing due to the effects of skin cancer. Should you spot any of the changes listed below, see your doctor immediately. Caught early, melanoma is highly treatable.
What A Normal Mole Looks Like
What should a ‘normal’ mole look like?
Generally, a normal mole:
• Is smaller than one-fourth of an inch
• Has a smooth surface with a distinct edge
• Is oval or round-shaped
• Is even colored
• Is flat or dome-shaped
What To Watch For
You should conduct an initial skin self-exam (see below) and then use that exam as a baseline for monthly self-exams afterwards. If you see something that’s changing, see your doctor immediately.
• Moles that change color
Exposure to the sun can make a mole look darker, but if your mole was tan but turned dark or if you have moles that are inconsistent in color, see your doctor.
• Moles that change size or shape
Moles are usually symmetrical. But if you notice one changing, growing or is asymmetrical, see your doctor.
• Moles shouldn’t hurt
If your mole is bleeding, oozing, itching or tender, you could have melanoma
• Moles should be smooth
If you have a mole that has turned crusty, rough, scaly or develops a scab it could be cancerous.
• Know your family history
If someone in your family has suffered skin cancer, you may be at a higher risk so take extra care with self-exams. Conversely, just because no one in your family is known to have had it, doesn’t mean you won’t get it.
How to Perform a Skin Check
If you’ve never performed a skin check, why not do one now during National Skin Cancer Awareness Month?
When you do your first skin check, note where the location of your moles, their size and shape. This will help you to track changes. Draw a body diagram and mark your moles, or take photos so you can compare from month to month.
“Everyone should do monthly skin checks as part of the process of finding and treating skin cancer early,” says Richard Price M.D. of Price SkinCare in Ridgeland, Mississippi. “As you do your monthly check, if you notice ANY changes in moles,make an appointment with your skin doctor immediately. Procrastination and fear can deadly results.”