Moles and Skin Changes: When to Worry

While a mole is typically a harmless mark on your skin, it can sometimes develop into a serious health problem.

May is Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month®, sponsored by the American Academy of Dermatology. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer, melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer and a mole can sometimes be a sign of cancer. Here are five tips to help you determine if you have cause to worry about a mole.

1. A common mole is typically small; pink, tan or brown; and has a definite edge. According to the National Cancer Institute, having more than 50 common moles increases a person’s risk of melanoma.

2. See your doctor or dermatologist for an annual skin cancer screening. In addition, schedule an appointment if you have any worrisome symptoms. A new growth, change in the size or color of a mole, itching, oozing, bleeding, tenderness and pain can all be signs of skin cancer.

3. The American Melanoma Foundation advises following the ABCD guide to spotting symptoms of melanoma.
“A” stands for asymmetry.
“B” stands for border irregularity.
“C” stands for color irregularity.
“D” stands for diameter, more than 6 millimeters in diameter can be cause for concern.

4. Do a self-exam and check all areas of your skin each month. Use the American Academy of Dermatology body mole map to monitor moles. Record details and note any changes.

5. If you’re worried about a mole, or something appears on your skin and lasts 2 weeks or longer and shows any of the signs of skin cancer, see your doctor or dermatologist. He or she can determine if a mole should be removed or tested. Diagnosed early, melanoma is almost always curable. However, melanoma can spread and become deadly quickly.

For more information about moles and skin cancer, or for a physician referral, please visit Medical Center Arlington online or call us at 1-855-868-6262.

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