Have you found yourself looking at a mole and wondering what’s normal and what’s not? That’s a common challenge for most people trying to check their skin for signs of cancer.
An estimated 1 in 5 Americans develops this type of cancer by the time they turn 70. Fortunately, detecting a problem as early as possible can ensure successful treatment. Even dangerous forms, such as melanoma, have a 99% five-year survival rate when found in the earliest stages.
Scott A. deVilleneuve, MD, at Surgical Associates of North Texas in McKinney, Texas, specializes in traditional and minimally invasive surgery techniques, including the Mohs procedure for melanoma and skin cancer.
In this blog, Dr. deVilleneuve explains how you can detect signs of skin cancer by following the “ABCDE” system for evaluating spots and moles.
A – Asymmetrical
One sign of an issue has to do with symmetry. More simply put, a healthy mole should be uniform in shape. So, if one half of a mole doesn’t match the other, there could be a problem.
B – Border
Next, look at the edges of the mole or spot. The border should be clear and well-defined. If it appears irregular, blurred, scalloped, red, or pink, it’s time to call your doctor.
C – Color
Now, check the color of the mole or spot. Healthy moles are usually even in color and often brown, while cancerous growths can vary in shade or include several colors in the same spot.
Abnormal colors on some or all of the mole can include:
However, it’s important to note that amelanotic melanomas don’t change color. This can make them harder to detect early, because they remain the same color as your skin.
D – Diameter
Next up, always pay attention to the size of the growth. If you have spots or moles the size of a pencil eraser (6 millimeters) or larger, they could be a warning sign of a problem.
E – Evolving
Finally, it’s important to watch moles or spots for any changes, especially to size, color, or shape, or if they start to bleed or itch. Similarly, watch for new growths or sores that don’t heal. Healthy tissue usually doesn’t change.
Putting the ABCDE method into practice
Now that you know the ABCDE method of skin cancer detection, it’s time to see it in action.
For the best results, Dr. deVilleneuve recommends checking your skin each month at home and keeping track of any growths, spots, or moles by using a notebook or body map.
All you need to get started is:
- Good lightning
- Large and small mirrors
- A chair
During your skin check, don’t forget hard-to-reach places, such as in between your toes, the bottoms of your feet, under your breasts and buttocks, scalp, and groin area. If you have dark skin, examine yourself even closer, because brown and black melanomas can be harder to see, and some forms can be more aggressive in People of Color.
If you notice any spots or growths that stand out because of the ABCDE system, schedule an appointment with a doctor immediately.
On top of monthly self-checks, you should also have annual professional skin cancer checks to increase your chances of early detection.
To learn more about skin cancer and your treatment options, call 972-947-2264 or book an appointment online with Surgical Associates of North Texas today.