“Do my moles look okay, or should I be concerned?”
In general, moles or nevi are very common and can be found on almost every adult. They may have many different characteristics, some of which may warrant a second opinion by a clinician. Routine full body skin exams are recommended for the average adult; an experienced eye can detect early abnormalities.
Even though it is normal for your moles to vary slightly in appearance, a general rule of thumb when examining them is to look for the ABCDEs of skin cancer like Melanoma:
Asymmetry- One half of the lesion is not a mirror image of the other half
Border- An irregular or ill-defined border
Color- Your mole should be one uniform color, although some benign moles may vary in color
Diameter- a mole that is larger than 6mm (about the size of a pencil eraser) should be further examined
Evolution- is your mole changing in size, shape or color? Typically this mole or skin lesion will stand out from the rest
There are both genetic and environmental factors which may increase a person’s likelihood of developing skin cancer. If a person has an atypical mole they are said to carry a 3-20 fold elevated risk of developing melanoma than the general population. Approximately 10 percent of melanomas are genetic. Sun or ultraviolet exposure increases a person’s lifetime risk as well; a strong association with adolescent/childhood sunburns and melanoma is high. UV exposure in an individual’s teens or twenties was associated with a 75 percent increase in melanoma.
A full-skin exam by a qualified provider will aid in diagnosing basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and atypical moles which may develop into melanomas. While monthly self-examinations are encouraged, many patients are unable to closely monitor areas like the back, posterior legs and arms, and other areas not easily seen by the individual.
Please contact us today to schedule your next skin exam if you think your lesion might be cancerous.
Tony Markou, PA-C