Moles come in all shapes and sizes, so it can be difficult to know when they are just regular growths and when they are showing signs of skin cancer. It is important to check your moles every once in a while and look for indications that it might be time to have them checked by a professional. Some of the signs you should look for are:
Moles that are presenting the ABCDEs of melanoma
Some of the best indications that you should have a mole checked are if they present some of the signs of melanoma. This is summarised by the ABCDE rule:
- A for Asymmetry. Look for asymmetric moles where one side of the mole does not match the other.
- B for Border. A mole that has an irregular border, such as one that is ragged, fuzzy or blurred might be a red flag.
- C for Colour. A mole that comes in multiple colours, such as mixes of black, brown, red, pink, blue or white.
- D for Diameter. A diameter larger than 6 millimetres can be concerning, however, skin cancer can start off as much smaller.
- E for Evolving. Perhaps the most important sign is a mole that is evolving or changing in some way, either in shape, size, colour or texture.
A mole that is irritating
Aside from the ABCDEs of melanoma you should also be aware of some other important factors such as a mole that is irritating in some way. This might include moles that are bleeding, itching or painful.
While new moles do appear throughout our lives, these new growths do have a chance of presenting danger to the body. Therefore, if you find new moles on your body, particularly after the age of thirty you should get them checked as soon as you can.
If you fall into a high risk category
There are particular risk factors that exacerbate your chances of developing skin cancer that you should be aware of. These include:
- A family history of skin cancer. If someone in your family has been affected by skin cancer, you are also more likely to develop it in your life.
- Fair skin, hair and eyes. People with fair hair, skin or eyes are more susceptible to sun damage and more likely to develop skin cancer throughout their lives if they are not careful.
- Greater than 100 moles. If someone has greater than a hundred moles their risk of skin cancer is significantly higher than the average.
Getting you moles checked
If you find any of the above signs it is recommended that you see a doctor or book an appointment with a skin cancer clinic to have your skin checked. It is important however not to panic as skin cancer, if caught early enough, is almost always treatable. So the best thing you can do is check your skin regularly, every three months, and visit a doctor if you find anything out of place.