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Skin cancer or mole: knowing the difference could save your life.

Skin cancer is the most common of all human cancers and so early skin cancer diagnosis and management is crucial in preventing its long-term consequences. There are three major types of skin cancers: basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and melanoma.

Melanoma accounts for 2% of skin cancer diagnoses and whilst its incidence is relatively small, melanoma may be fatal if they are not treated early. It is therefore important to have a good understanding the characteristics of a malignant melanoma, especially as they start as a precancerous lesions and become cancerous over time.

Below are some simple tips to assist you in reviewing your moles and monitoring their changes. Whilst these tips will help clarify the common differences between moles and melanomas, it is important that you make sure any suspicious moles are checked by your skin cancer doctor.

The most simple and easy-to-remember method for distinguishing between a mole and melanoma is by using ‘ABCDE’. These letters stand for Asymmetry, Border irregularity, Color variegation, Diameter and Evolving.

Normal moles are usually symmetrical, whereas melanomas are typically asymmetrical. Furthermore, the borders of normal moles are most commonly smooth and precise; melanomas, on the other hand, generally have blurred borders, or may have a white ring encompassing them. In regards to colouring, benign moles are most likely to be all one colour (usually one shade of brown), while malignant moles can appear with a multitude of shades, including brown, black, tan and even red, white or blue. The diameter of a normal mole will usually be within sixmillimeters; any nevus with a diameter greater than six millimeters is more likely to be a melanoma.

Finally, if a mole evolves or changes in anyway, shape or kind – this includes changes in its colour, shape, size, elevation or any other traits, as well as new elements such as itching bleeding or crusting – it should be checked by a doctor as soon as possible.

Please be aware that this information is merely aimed to supplement that of a healthcare professional. If you have any moles that look suspicious, make sure you have them checked by a doctor.

The team at SunDoctors is experts in skin cancer diagnosis, treatment, and prevention. Get your skin checked today. Head online to to book an appointment at a clinic near you, or call 13 SKIN (13 7546) and speak to the team at SunDoctors’ team today.