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How to Tell if Your Mole is Cancerous

How to Tell if Your Mole is Cancerous

Now that the sun has come out of its hibernation, it’s time to start being aware of how it can affect your skin. While the sun may feel amazing and is crucial for your body, too much of it can lead to severe problems such as skin cancer. Since May is Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month there’s no better time than now to start examining that mole to see if it is cancerous.

Many skin cancers emerge from existing moles or in the form of new moles, so it is important to constantly monitor your skin. Skin cancer and melanomas sound scary, but they are actually quite treatable if caught early enough.

Remember, only a doctor can diagnose your mole as cancerous! If you have any doubts or are afraid to go to the doctor, ask your home health nurse for more information. He or she can examine the area in question and recommend what you should do. If necessary, your nurse can help you get in contact with a dermatologist. Our nurses are trained in recognizing signs of skin cancer and may be able to help alleviate your fears.

One easy way to remember the signs of melanoma is the acronym ABCDE. Here are a few tips for you to determine whether or not your mole is cancerous:

A – Asymmetry

melanoma

skincancer.org

Normal moles should be mostly symmetrical, meaning that if you divide the mole in half, both sides look similar. If you notice that your mole is not symmetrical, it may be a sign of melanoma.

B – Border

melanoma

skincancer.org

A normal mole should have a smooth, even border. Melanomas tend to have a jagged edge and look very uneven.

C – Color

melanoma

skincancer.org

Normal moles are generally a solid brown color without any variations or different colored areas. Melanomas, however, can have a variety of colors throughout the mole, including brown, tan, black, red, white, or blue.

D – Diameter

melanoma

skincancer.org

Normal moles don’t usually get too large, staying smaller than the diameter of an eraser on a pencil (about 1/4″). Melanomas can begin small but usually grow in size and are typically larger than a pencil eraser.

E – Evolving

melanoma

skincancer.org

Normal moles typically don’t change too much over time. Melanomas usually evolve, which is how all of these signs become noticeable. Other changes that can occur include size, shape, color, elevation, bleeding, itching, or crusting.

When examining your skin for cancerous moles, use a full-length mirror to assist you. Begin either at the top or bottom of your body, and be sure to check crevices between toes and fingers, as well as behind your knees and groin. Keep track of any moles you already have so that you can know if they begin to change over time. Taking photos or measurements helps to verify any changes that occur. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends performing a head-to-toe examination of yourself at least once a month. Your nurse or home health aide can assist you in this examination – just ask!

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