How to Spot a Dangerous Mole

Double-take.

One of the most common types of cancer is skin cancer, a disease diagnosed in nearly 9,500 people in the United States every day. As an experienced dermatologist, Lisa Hitchins, MD, PA, stays proactive about identifying skin cancer in the earliest stages, and offers resources to help you stay on top of your skin health.

While melanoma, a life-threatening form of skin cancer, is rare, it does pose a serious risk for both children and adults. The first indication you may have melanoma, or another form of skin cancer, can be seen in the moles on your skin.

Dr. Hitchins encourages all people to do regular skin checks at home to quickly identify the earliest signs of skin cancer. With early intervention, you can receive the treatment you need at a time when it’s most effective.

Understanding types of skin cancer

Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer. Other types of skin cancer that are more common include:

Basal cell carcinoma

Basal cell carcinomas, the most common skin cancer, typically develop in the areas of your skin that are frequently exposed to sunlight, including your head, neck, and face.

Squamous cell carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinomas can occur in sun-exposed areas, but can also develop on any area of your body.

These types of skin cancer can cause changes in existing moles or symptoms like itchy bumps, scaly sores, and other abnormal growths on your skin. These growths need prompt evaluation by an experienced dermatologist like Dr. Hitchins to confirm or rule out skin cancer.

Follow the alphabet rule

The American Cancer Society recommends a simple ABCDE rule for checking your skin and evaluating your moles:

A for asymmetry

If you have a mole with sides that don’t match each other, you may have an asymmetrical mole that can be a sign of skin cancer.

B for border

If the borders, or edges of your moles appear notched or irregularly shaped, it can indicate underlying cancer.

C for color

If you have a mole that has more than one color, you need a medical evaluation. Moles can develop in a wide variety of colors, but if you’re seeing two or more colors in the same mole, it can be a warning sign of cancer.

D for diameter

The diameter of your mole matters. Cancerous moles are often compared to the size of an eraser on a pencil. Moles with a large diameter may signal cancer, but an evaluation is important because cancerous moles can also be smaller in size.

E for evolving

Routine skin checks are important for quickly recognizing changes in the size, color, or shape of a mole. Evolving changes in a mole can indicate you have skin cancer and the earlier you get checked, the more a successful treatment can be administered.

In addition to following the ABCDE rule for skin checks at home, you should also schedule routine evaluations in-office with Dr. Hitchins. During these visits, she evaluates the entirety of your skin, especially the areas you can’t easily see yourself, to identify suspicious moles.

If testing determines moles or other abnormal skin growths are cancerous, Dr. Hitchins ensures you receive necessary treatment as soon as possible to reduce your risk for the spread of cancer.

To schedule a routine skin check, call Dermatology Center of Northwest Houston or request an appointment using the online booking system today.

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