Most of us have at least a few moles on our skin and for the most part we don’t tend to think anything of them. But what if your mole was developing into a skin cancer – would you be able to spot the signs of skin cancer moles? Do you know the changes to look out for and at what point should you visit the doctor for advice?
Doctors tend to use the ABCDE method of checking your skin moles for the changes that might be associated with melanoma. This is also useful for us to know when we are checking our own skin for abnormalities. Doctors will also ask about your family history and will check to see the number of moles you have. These are often signs that you may be at risk.
Signs of skin cancer moles: A = Asymmetry
A mole that is normal will usually be round and relatively symmetrical. However a mole that is undergoing changes will have ragged edges and be an unusual shape. The key is to draw a line through the centre of the mole and see if both sides match – if they don’t you should have the mole checked by your doctor.
Signs of skin cancer moles: B = Border
As already mentioned a worrying sign for a mole is that it has ragged edges or borders. You may noticed notches or lumps and bumps around the edges of the mole – rather than a smooth and even looking border.
Signs of skin cancer moles: C = Colour
Most of the moles on your body will be one uniform colour (often brown or black) however a sign of skin cancer moles is that the colour is mottled or there are several colours within the mole itself. Your mole may even be an unusual shade such as blue, red or white.
Signs of skin cancer moles: D = Diameter
Natural and normal moles tend to be quite small in size while melanomas will be larger and may have seen significant growth over a short period of time. You would normally expect a melanoma to be larger than the size of the eraser on the tip of your pencil or about 6mm. However smaller moles in the early stages of their development can still be cancerous.
Signs of skin cancer moles: E = Evolving
This may be the hardest sign of skin cancer moles to spot – changing and evolving moles. This means that if your mole changes in colour, size or elevation over time you should have it looked at. This is when taking photos of your moles becomes really important – especially if a new one develops. Your mole may also start to itch or bleed.
These types of melanoma don’t always fit into the common ABCDE signs of skin cancer and therefore are harder to spot. These will grow downwards into the skin and so may not be as obvious above the skin. However nodular melanomas tend to develop quickly in a new mole – so keep an eye out for new moles on your skin and watch carefully. These may also start to itch or bleed.
The signs of skin cancer moles can be easy to spot as long as we stay aware of our skin and keep a close watch on all of the moles we already have. Here are some pictures of early melanoma so that you know what to look out for.