How to Spot a Dangerous Mole


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.

You Might Also Enjoy...

Help! I’m Embarrassed About My Acne

If you’re covering up pimples with makeup or avoiding social events entirely because of severe acne breakouts, it’s time to get help from an acne specialist. Learn more about the available treatment options to treat and prevent acne.

6 Types of Eczema and How They’re Treated

If you’re one of the 15 million Americans with eczema, it’s important that you understand what type you have, so you can manage it properly. Learn more about the six types of eczema and how to treat them.

Yes, You Can Remove Hair There

Women endure a lot of discomfort for the sake of appearances, like shaving your bikini line. Learn how laser hair removal works and why this noninvasive procedure is more effective than shaving or waxing away unwanted body hair.

7 Risk Factors for Skin Tags

Do you have any unusual flaps of skin on your body? It’s estimated that almost half of American adults have at least one skin tag somewhere on their body. Learn what factors can increase your risk for these common, benign skin growths.

Why You Shouldn’t Pop a Pimple

Popping pimples may seem like a good idea, but you may be doing more damage to your skin than you realize. Learn more about the dangers of pimple-popping and what you should do instead.

Can Medication Help My Eczema?

As many as 15 million Amercians deal with eczema flareups and many require treatment to keep their symptoms under control. Learn more about the medications and other treatments that can ease eczema and protect your skin’s health.