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Skin Cancer: What It Means When Your Mole Changes

One in five Americans are likely to develop some type of skin cancer in their lifetime. Research actually shows that patients rather than doctors detect most skin cancers. For this reason, it is extremely important to know the signs and symptoms to look for, especially atypical moles.

Whether you or your dermatologist at Dermatology & Mohs Surgery Institute detects atypical moles, it is important to know the next steps to prevent the spread and damage of this disease.


How to Detect Atypical Moles

Learning how to examine your skin for signs and symptoms of skin cancer can dramatically reduce the risks associated with this condition. A clear sign to look for includes atypical moles. Atypical moles are unusual-looking moles that show irregular features when examined under a microscope. Though benign, those with 10 or more atypical moles have 12 times the risk of melanoma. They can occur anywhere on the body and the appearance can greatly vary. It is best to know your skin and keep track of the moles you already have, which will help you track any new, changing or unusual moles.

A guide for warning signs of atypical moles is as easy as A, B, C, D, and E.

A is for looking for asymmetry in the mole. If you draw a line through the mole and the two halves don’t match, they are asymmetrical.

B is for looking for borders that may be uneven, alerting to an atypical mole.

C is for looking for a variety of colors in the mole. Benign moles are often a single shade of brown, not different shades.

D is for looking at the diameter and darkness of the mole. A mole the size of an eraser or darker than the others is considered atypical.

E is for moles that evolve into a different size, shape or color. While atypical moles are not skin cancer, they are a risk factor for developing melanoma.


Melanoma and Other Types of Skin Cancer

If you notice atypical moles and/or have a family history of melanoma you will want to always take notice of new or changing moles. Melanoma is one of the deadliest forms of skin cancer because of how rapidly it can spread. In fact, one American dies from melanoma every hour. If you have atypical moles and other common melanoma risk factors you must also be watchful if you have fair skin, light eyes, light hair and freckles as you may be at an even higher risk for melanoma.

Other kinds of cancer include Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) and Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC). BCC affects more than 1 million people each year in the United States and is the most common form of skin cancer. BCC skin cancer symptoms appear as either a shiny or translucent bump on the skin, a sore that does not heal, or a reddish irritated patch of skin. Patients typically find these on areas of the body most often exposed to the sun. Lastly, SCC skin cancer symptoms may appear as a crusted or scaly area with a red inflamed base resembling a bump or crusted patch of skin. Like BCC, it can appear on skin most often exposed to the sun, but can also appear in areas that are never exposed to sunlight.

If you are in Bloomington, Illinois or the surrounding areas and notice any irregularities or want to schedule an appointment to be checked for skin cancer, fill out this form to meet with a dermatologist from Dermatology & Mohs Surgery Institute. We are here to advise and offer treatment for all types of skin cancer.

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