It’s important to check your skin for suspicious moles once a month. Self-exams can help identify potential skin cancer early, when they can almost always be cured. This is why learning the ABCDE’s for skin cancer and moles is so important. This system provides an easy way to recognize moles and growths that might be cancerous.
A – Asymmetry
Normal moles or freckles are completely symmetrical. If you were to draw a line through a normal spot, you would have two symmetrical halves. In cases of skin cancer, spots don't look the same on both sides.
B – Border
A mole or spot with blurry and/or jagged edges.
C – Color
A mole that is more than one hue is suspicious and needs to be evaluated by a doctor. Normal spots are usually one color. This can include lightening or darkening of the mole. Melanoma cells usually continue to produce melanin, which accounts for the cancers appearing in mixed shades of tan, brown and black.
D – Diameter
If it is larger than a pencil eraser (about 1/4 inch or 6mm), it needs to be examined by a doctor. This includes areas that do not have any other abnormalities (color, border, asymmetry). But, don't be fooled by size alone - it can be smaller.
E – Elevation/Evolving
Elevation means the mole is raised above the surface and has an uneven surface. Looks different from the rest or changing in size, shape, color.
In addition, there are other features of melanoma such as surface changes (bleeding, oozing, flaking) or signs of itchiness, pain, or tenderness. After examining the mole, if your doctor thinks the mole is a melanoma, then a biopsy will be performed for further analysis.
Basically, any mole or growth that is CHANGING needs to be checked by a physician and if you see one or more of these make an appointment with your physician immediately.