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What to Know About Moles and Skin Cancer

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The majority of skin cancers do not develop from moles, but it is good to know what it might look like if skin cancer were to show up in the form of moles. If you have a large number of moles, you can be diligent by checking them on a monthly basis. Learn what to look for when doing self-exams. You can ask your doctor to take photos of any preexisting, new or abnormal moles to have a yearly record for reference.

The following is what to know in case skin cancer does develop and show in a mole. There are different types of moles, with different characteristics and implications. Learn more below.

What to Look For

Talk to an experienced doctor about any existing marks on your body and what to look for when keeping an eye on existing or new moles or marks.

  • Basal cell carcinoma shows up in the areas that get the most sun exposure. It can look like a raised bump that is reddish to white. It may also appear as a sore that may excrete blood or other substances.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma also tends to show up on sun-exposed areas, though it can also appear anywhere on the body. These moles can look similar to a wart, or have a rough red patch with uneven borders. It is also possible for squamous cell moles to appear as an open sore. This is the second most common type of skin cancer.
  • Learn the characteristics of melanoma to look for, as this form of skin cancer is the most serious. Melanoma shows up in these ABCDE signs: an Asymmetrical mole with two unevenly shaped sides, uneven Borders around the mole. The mole may have inconsistent Color, from light to near-black, with a Diameter wider than 6 millimeters. Finally, Evolution of the mole’s appearance in a short time period is also a sign of melanoma.
  • Benign moles still need to be checked out, though they have key differences from the melanoma moles above. Benign moles are symmetrical, even colored, and have smooth border lines.
  • Another way skin cancer can show up is in small crusty or scaly patches or bumps on your face, scalp, neck, or arms. This is called Actinic Keratosis, and these growths are a good idea to remove.
  • Be watchful for Nodular Melanoma, a type of skin cancer which can grow quickly. It often shows up as a raised bump and spreads from there.

While it is good practice to keep an eye on your moles, existing moles are not in and of themselves cause for concern and do not make you more susceptible to cancer. If you do have moles that change, newly appear or show unusual signs like the ones listed above, see your doctor to have it examined.

Keeping an eye on moles is not enough to ensure best care against skin cancer. In our previous article, we go over general tips on how to protect your skin’s health in the coming months of increased sun exposure. Please review our tips, and talk to your doctor to develop an effective, year-round plan to protect your skin from harmful UVA/UVB rays.

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