Skin Cancer Awareness Month: Is Your Spot Cancerous? How to Tell

Dermatology MOHS Institute skin cancer on a spot Skin Cancer Awareness Month: Is Your Spot Cancerous? How to Tell

Determining if a Spot Could be Skin Cancer

An unusual spot or unusual mole can cause panic and confusion. If you know what to look for and how to conduct a self-examination, the first thought that may come to mind is skin cancer. Knowing what to look for and what a dermatologist looks for when diagnosing skin cancer can help save your life in case you do have it. The dermatologists at Dermatology & Mohs Surgery Institute are here to help teach you signs to look for when determining whether a spot or mole is cancerous.

Signs Your Spot Could Be Cancerous

Self-examination skin cancer screenings should be done at home monthly in addition to a yearly screening provided by your dermatologist. Self-examinations and professional examinations take less than 10 minutes. Screenings can help diagnose spots, moles, or lumps and allow you to begin treatment before more damage is caused or it becomes deadly. Signs of what to look for are the same for both self-examinations and examinations done by your dermatologist and can easily be remembered by the letters A, B, C, D and E. Before you or your dermatologist conduct a skin cancer screening, it is important you are aware of the current moles and spots on your body. During a screening, the existing moles and spots are thoroughly looked at to see if they are atypical following these guidelines:

  • A – Asymmetrical: If you notice an unusual spot or mole, you will want to see if it is symmetrical or asymmetrical. If you can visually fold the mole in half evenly, it is symmetrical. If you visually fold the mole in half and the two sides are not even, it is asymmetrical. This is a mole you should pay close attention to.
  • B – Border: If the border of a suspicious mole is uneven, this may be a sign of an atypical mole.
  • C - Color: Moles should be similar in color. If they vary in shades of brown, you are likely looking at an atypical mole.
  • D – Darkness and Diameter: If the mole is especially dark, it may be a sign it is cancerous. Additionally, the diameter of a mole is often the size of an eraser. Any larger than an eraser should be considered atypical.
  • E – Evolve: Knowing how your moles typically look can help you notice how suspicious moles evolve over time. Some do not evolve, but others that do evolve are considered atypical.

Not all atypical moles will have each of these characteristics. You may only notice one or two of these signs. But once you notice any of these characteristics, even if it is just one, the suspicious and atypical spot/mole should be tested by your dermatologist. Once tested they can provide a proper diagnosis and explain your treatment options.

If you are concerned about an unusual or changing spot or mole, the dermatologists at Dermatology & Mohs Surgery Institute are here to help. If you are in Bloomington, Illinois and the surrounding area complete this form to meet with a dermatologist.

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