Almost everyone has moles on their body. While a majority of them are harmless, some can be deadly. A normal or benign mole is often evenly colored, round or oval in shape, about ¼ inch in diameter and can either be flat or raised. Some moles are present at birth, but the majority appear during childhood. New moles that show up on adults should be examined closely as they could be a sign of melanoma.
Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer and can develop anywhere in the body that has pigments. It is however curable if diagnosed in its early stages. Certain factors may significantly increase your risk of skin cancer, such as chronic sun exposure, severe sunburn as a child, a family history of the disease or by simply having fair skin.
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How do you to tell if a mole is cancerous?
One of the best way to tell if a mole is cancerous is by the way it looks. Aside from the sudden appearance of a mole a change in shape, size or color of an existing one is the most probable sign of melanoma.
Dermatologists recommend using the ABCDE method to identify possible signs of the disease during your routine screening. It determines if mole is cancerous by using the following characteristics as indicators:
- A = Asymmetry: One side of the spot is very different from the other.
- B = Border: The spot has irregular edges. Either notched or blurred.
- C = Color: If the color is inconsistent throughout the spot.
- D = Diameter: If the spot is larger than the size of a pencil eraser or ¼ inch.
- E = Evolving: Is it changing in size, shape or color.
Not all melanomas fit the descriptions above, so if you have any doubts about a spot on your body it is best to consult your doctor right away.
To help decrease your risks of getting melanoma you should limit your exposure to sunlight and use sunscreen when possible. Since early detection is key to prevention, regularly screening your body for irregular spots is very important and may even save your life.