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When Should I Seek a Doctor’s Opinion About My Mole?

Moles are common, it’s important to keep an eye on them for any changes in color or size. They could be benign, but they could also signal the appearance of skin cancer. Once you notice an atypical mole or change in your current mole, dermatologists at Dermatology & Mohs Surgery Institute can help diagnose, treat, and prevent the spread of any damage that could be caused if your mole is left untreated.


Signs and Symptoms of Atypical Mole

Learning how to examine your skin for signs and symptoms of skin cancer can dramatically reduce the risks associated with this condition. The biggest thing to look our for? 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. This awareness will help you keep track of 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 sizes, shapes, or colors. While atypical moles are not skin cancer, they are a risk factor for developing melanoma and a doctor should be consulted.


Types of Skin Cancer

Melanoma, basal cell carcinoma (BCC), and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) are all types of skin cancer. Let’s take a look at all three.

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. This form of skin cancer can be easily cured if detected early enough.

BCC is the most common form of 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. BCC is typically found on areas of the body most often exposed to the sun.

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 have any of these symptoms, a dermatologist will likely recommend surgical removal of the skin growth.


Skin Cancer Removal

The most common and effective skin cancer treatment is Mohs micrographic surgery in which as little of the affected tissue is removed until no cancer cells remain. During this procedure, you will likely be given local anesthesia before the tumor portion is removed. Once removed, the tumor is taken to an onsite lab to determine if any skin cancer remains. This portion of the procedure often takes the longest time while doctors determine the presence of cancer cells. If cancer cells remain, another layer of tissue is taken and examined again in the lab. After the removal, the dermatologist will determine the best way for the wound to heal, choosing either to leave it open or stitch it closed.

Mohs micrographic surgery is recommended for BCC and SCC that was recently found or that are aggressive or growing rapidly. The surgery is also recommended for some cases of melanoma.

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

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