11 Tips To Help You Spot An Abnormal Mole Which Could Be Cancerous

Date March 15, 2018

Skin cancers are among the most common types of cancer. What makes this one different from other types of the disease is that it makes its presence known early. Thorough regular skin checks (even areas that aren't usually exposed to the sun) can help find abnormal skin changes that could indicate cancer just in time to get treatment early, when it's the most effective. It's recommended to inspect your skin once every month and report any suspicious changes to the doctor. But to know when to seek help, you need to know what to look for.

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There is a handy abbreviation - ABCDE - which is easy to memorize, and it can help you recognize a mole which could be melanoma. Here's what these letters stand for:

  • asymmetry - abnormal moles have an uneven shape;
  • border - the edges of abnormal moles are blurry or irregular;
  • color - abnormal moles can have several different colors or shades (including brown, black, red, pink, white, purple, and even blue);
  • diameter - abnormal moles are usually larger than 1/4 inch (6 mm) in diameter;
  • evolution - abnormal moles can change in shape, size, and color.

Melanoma can grow anywhere on the skin, even on areas that get very little sun. It can also grow in the eye.

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Basal cell carcinoma

This type of skin cancer is more common than melanoma, and it's also usually less aggressive. It's the type of cancer which Hugh Jackman had.

Here are some features of basal cell carcinomas:

  • most commonly appear on the face, head, and neck;
  • may appear as bumps, raised patches, or lesions;
  • come in many different colors (pink, red, white, yellow, sometimes brown, black, or blue)
  • can itch, become irritated and painful, bleed, and form a crust.

Squamous cell carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinomas are also more common than melanomas. Here are some typical features of this type of cancer:

  • may look like a wart;
  • may appear as a scaly red patch which can bleed and crust over;
  • are usually raised growths;
  • may appear as sores that heal poorly or not at all.

Here's a good rule of thumb: If you notice any changes on your skin that worry you, go to a dermatologist. They will most likely turn out to be non-cancerous, but it's better to be safe than sorry.

To get a better picture of what different types of skin cancer look like, we recommend to look them up.

Warning: Some of these pictures are quite graphic.

Source: American Cancer Society, Skin Cancer Foundation, SkinVision

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This article is solely for informational purposes. Do not self-diagnose or self-medicate, and in all cases consult a certified healthcare professional before using any information presented in the article. The editorial board does not guarantee any results and does not bear any responsibility for harm that may result from using the information provided in the article.