How Do I Know If a Mole is Worrisome? Understanding the Early Signs of Melanoma

Curly haired woman with melanoma

Skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer. While basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma make up most skin cancers, melanoma is by the far most serious type and if untreated, can be life-threatening . The good news is the prognosis for melanoma is excellent, if it’s caught early. Below, you can learn more about melanoma and how to detect it.

Am I at Risk?

Ultraviolet radiation from sunlight or tanning beds increases the risk of melanoma. Fair-skinned individuals (think red hair, light eyes, freckles) are also at higher risk. Having many moles, irregular moles, or a family history of melanoma represent other potential risk factors.

However, even if you don’t have any of these risk factors, it is still possible to develop melanoma, which is why early screening is crucial.

What Can I Do To Catch Early Melanoma Signs at Home?

No matter your risk level for melanoma, it’s important to check your skin from head-to-toe monthly at home. It is also important to take an inventory of your moles and get to know them and where they are. Believe it or not, half of all melanoma cases are discovered by patients themselves.

The “A-B-C-D-E Rule” below is a simple way to remember the warning signs of melanoma. It should be applied when assessing your moles at home:

  • A is for Asymmetry — It may be concerning if one half of a mole doesn’t match the other.
  • B is for Border — Healthy moles tend to have smooth, even borders. Potentially worrisome moles may have irregular borders that appear blurry, wavy, or scalloped.
  • C is for Colour — Multiple colours in a single mole can be a red flag.
  • D is for Diameter — If a mole has a diameter larger than 6mm (approximately the size of a pencil eraser), this may be a cause for concern.
  • E is for Evolution — Any change in a mole or new symptom should be reported to your dermatologist for examination.

In addition to assessing individual moles by applying the “A-B-C-D-E Rule,” it is equally important to look for “the ugly duckling” — any spot that looks different than the neighbouring moles.

What’s Next? Contact Kingsway Dermatology

If any of your moles show even just one of these warning signs, schedule an appointment with your dermatologist — they will examine your moles with a dermatoscope, a special instrument used to help diagnose skin lesions with better accuracy. If there is any concern, a biopsy may be recommended.

It’s important to catch potential issues early, so if you have any concerns at all, don’t wait: contact Kingsway Dermatology today for a melanoma screening.

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