It is often difficult to distinguish a “bad mole” from a normal mole when examining your skin. A simple ABC (DE) is a great tool to use
A – Asymmetry – this means the shape isn’t uniform
B – Borders – this is seen with the outside circumference being ill defined or irregular in shape
C – Color – different colors within one mole are a danger sign. Dark moles are not always bad moles; however, most benign moles are typically one color
D – Diameter – most benign moles are less than 6mm in diameter (less than the size of a pencil eraser)
E – Evolution – any growth of the mole, change in character. Melanoma can change quickly.
As stated above, not all moles are malignant or dangerous. It is very important to know your moles and report any of the above changes. Early intervention with biopsy and treatment is key to a positive outcome. Many people disregard their skin changes as natural aging. With our skin being the largest organ of our body, it is so important to know your moles, bumps, etc and report any concerns.
There are several skin cancers besides melanoma. The most common include basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. There are also pre-cancerous lesions that are not cancer but deserve attention. Actinic keratoses and lentigines (solar spots) can occur over time on sun damaged skin. Seborrheic keratoses are considered “wisdom spots”. They are ugly and are commonly removed by spraying liquid nitrogen on them.
I cannot stress the importance of early skin care and the use of sunscreens. The damage that you see now on your skin probably occurred when you were young.