Wednesday, February 21, 2024
HomeMelanomaHow To Check Moles For Melanoma

How To Check Moles For Melanoma

What Is My Skin Type

How to check your mole for skin cancer ?

Skin types that are more sensitive to ultraviolet radiation burn more quickly and are at a greater risk of skin cancer.

All skin types can be damaged by too much UV radiation. Skin types that are more sensitive to UV radiation burn more quickly and are at a greater risk of skin cancer.

People with naturally very dark skin still need to take care in the sun even though they may rarely, if ever, get sunburnt. The larger amount of melanin in very dark skin provides natural protection from UV radiation. This means the risk of skin cancer is lower.

Eye damage can occur regardless of skin type. High levels of UV radiation have also been linked to harmful effects on the immune system.

Vitamin D deficiency may be a greater health concern for people with naturally very dark skin, as it is more difficult for people with this skin type to make vitamin D.

How To Check For Skin Cancer

This article was medically reviewed by . Dr. Litza is a board certified Family Medicine Physician in Wisconsin. She is a practicing Physician and taught as a Clinical Professor for 13 years, after receiving her MD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health in 1998.There are 15 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 786,826 times.

Early detection of skin cancer is important and can be lifesaving, especially for certain types of skin cancer such as melanoma and squamous cell carcinoma. It is estimated that 76,380 new cases of melanoma will be diagnosed in 2016 and over 13,000 will die from the skin cancer.XTrustworthy SourceAmerican Cancer SocietyNonprofit devoted to promoting cancer research, education, and supportGo to source Given that timing is so crucial to diagnosing and treating skin cancer, you should follow a few simple steps to learn how to detect skin cancer on your skin.

Dont Miss: Can Melanoma Be Treated Successfully

Know The Abcdes Of Melanoma

The acronym ABCDE can help you remember characteristics of a mole that serve as warning signs. It stands for: asymmetry, border, color, diameter, and evolving. These are signs of dynamic change, says Dr. Chon, which are always critical to note when it comes to moles. If you recognize any of the ABCDEs, even one or two, tell your dermatologist. Again, the most important thing here is if these features are new or have changed. But if youre not sure, its always smart to check in with your doctor to be safe.

Don’t Miss: Stage 3 Basal Cell Carcinoma Survival Rate

The Risks The Causes What You Can Do

Skin cancers like melanoma have damaged DNA in skin cells that lead to uncontrolled growth of these cells. Ultraviolet rays from the sun or tanning beds damage DNA in your skin cells. Your immune system repairs some of this damage but not all. Over time, the remaining DNA damage can lead to mutations that cause skin cancer. Many other factors also play a role in increasing the risk for melanoma, including genetics , skin type or color, hair color, freckling and number of moles on the body.

Understanding what causes melanoma and whether youre at high risk of developing the disease can help you prevent it or detect it early when it is easiest to treat and cure.

These factors increase your melanoma risk:

  • Many moles: The more moles you have on your body, the higher your risk for melanoma. Also, having large moles , or any atypical moles, increases the risk for melanoma.
  • Fair skin: Melanoma occurs more frequently in people with fair skin, light eyes and light or red hair.
  • Skin cancer history: People who have already had melanoma or nonmelanoma skin cancers run a greater risk of developing melanoma in the future.
  • Genetics: Melanoma can run in families one in every 10 patients has a family member who also has had the disease.

How Does The Doctor Find The Stage Of Skin Cancer

Skin cancer risk in Alberta on par with warmer countries

If you have been diagnosed with melanoma, your doctor will:

  • Take your medical history.
  • Do a thorough physical exam.
  • Examine the size, depth, and appearance of the skin cancer.
  • Check nearby lymph nodes . Your doctor may do a biopsy of the lymph nodes. To do this, a little tissue is removed and examined.

Based on these exams, your doctor usually has enough information to know if the cancer is in an early or an advanced stage.

You May Like: Does Amelanotic Melanoma Blanch When Pressed

Possible Signs And Symptoms Of Melanoma

The most important warning sign of melanoma is a new spot on the skin or a spot that is changing in size, shape, or color.

Another important sign is a spot that looks different from all of the other spots on your skin .

If you have one of these warning signs, have your skin checked by a doctor.

The ABCDE rule is another guide to the usual signs of melanoma. Be on the lookout and tell your doctor about spots that have any of the following features:

  • A is for Asymmetry: One half of a mole or birthmark does not match the other.
  • B is for Border:The edges are irregular, ragged, notched, or blurred.
  • C is for Color:The color is not the same all over and may include different shades of brown or black, or sometimes with patches of pink, red, white, or blue.
  • D is for Diameter:The spot is larger than 6 millimeters across , although melanomas can sometimes be smaller than this.
  • E is for Evolving: The mole is changing in size, shape, or color.

Some melanomas dont fit these rules. Its important to tell your doctor about any changes or new spots on the skin, or growths that look different from the rest of your moles.

Other warning signs are:

  • A sore that doesnt heal
  • Spread of pigment from the border of a spot into surrounding skin
  • Redness or a new swelling beyond the border of the mole
  • Change in sensation, such as itchiness, tenderness, or pain
  • Change in the surface of a mole scaliness, oozing, bleeding, or the appearance of a lump or bump

Skin Cancer: How Do I Check My Moles For Signs Of Melanoma

Social media influencer Molly-Mae Hague, 21, has been raising awareness about the importance of young people getting moles checked for potential skin cancer. Melanomas can occur relatively frequently among younger age groups, so what are the signs to look for?

I never knew the word melanoma before, Darcy Shaw, 22, tells the BBC.

I didnt know what the doctor meant when he said it.

I went to the appointment by myself because I wasnt expecting to get news like that. Its not something thats on your radar as a young person.

Darcy, a teacher from Salford, was diagnosed with skin cancer in February.

It was her mum who encouraged her to go to the doctor, after spotting during Darcys visits home from university that a mole on her collarbone was getting larger and darker.

I think its quite hard to see those changes in your body, says Darcy. But my family could see it.

Also Check: How Bad Is Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Don’t Miss: Can Squamous Cell Carcinoma Metastasis

Look Where The Sun Doesn’t Shine

Yes, melanoma is most likely to grow on skin thats exposed to the sun, but sometimes it shows up in more hidden areas that rarely see the light of day, Dr. Wendel says. Dont forget to look at the bottoms of your feet and your rear end, she says. Also, check your scalp. People with short hair have more exposure there than they may realize, but even if you have long, luxurious locks, its still smart to search your scalp. Dr. Wendel suggests enlisting your hairdresser, who can take a look during your appointment and tell you about anything that looks new or different.

All It Takes Is 5 Minutes

Mole Check: How to spot skin cancer

Unless youre a person at high risk in which case you should have been specifically instructed to be seeing a dermatologist regularly, 5 to 10 minutes once in 2 months is all it takes for peace of mind.

  • Stand in front of a full-length mirror to start. The room should be well lit.
  • Start with the top, at the scalp. Part your hair with a brush to check it section by section.
  • Check the face and neck area, and pay particular attention to areas like the back of the ears that are harder to see.
  • Move down your body. Ideally, have a partner or family member check your backside and underarm areas that are hard to see yourself.
  • Unlike most skin cancers, melanoma is a skin cancer that can affect areas that arent typically sun exposed. Its important to check everywhere. The fingernails are also a potential site.

Also Check: Does Skin Cancer Itch And Burn

How To Check For Melanoma

Is that mole or freckle on your skin just a harmless spot or something sinister? Checking for signs of melanoma is important as it is a serious cancer that can spread to other parts of the body. In fact, melanoma can become life-threatening in as little as six weeks. Therefore, the earlier melanoma is found, the better the chances of successful treatment.

Can Melanoma Be Prevented

You can’t control how fair your skin is or whether you have a relative with cancerous moles. But there are things you can do to lower your risk of developing melanoma. The most important is limiting your exposure to the sun.

Take these precautions:

  • Avoid the strongest sun of the day between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Use broad-spectrum sunscreen whenever you’re in the sun.
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat and cover up with long, loose cotton clothing if you burn easily.
  • Stay out of the tanning salon. Even one indoor tanning session increases your risk of getting melanoma.

Also, be sure to check your moles often . Keep dated records of each mole’s location, size, shape, and color, and get anything suspicious checked out right away.

Not all skin cancer is melanoma, but every case of melanoma is serious. So now that you know more about it, take responsibility for protecting yourself and do what you can to lower your risk.

You can find more information online at:

Also Check: Does Skin Cancer Make You Lose Hair

Moles: When Should I Worry

I was recently diagnosed with a pre-melanoma on my leg.

It all started when I noticed a mole on my left leg had changed. My colleague removed a part of the mole and sent it off for tests. The results indicated that my mole was melanoma in situ, which means the malignant tumor was still confined to the upper layers of the skin and had not spread. A second excision was performed to remove the mole entirely, and theres no reason to believe that I wont be fine.

Had I not noticed the change in the mole, it may have become a malignant melanoma, and my situation could have been dramatically different.

Malignant melanoma, which starts out as a mole, is the most dangerous form of skin cancer, killing almost 10,000 people each year. The majority of melanomas are black or brown, but they can be almost any color skin-colored, pink, red, purple, blue or white. Melanomas are caused mainly by intense UV exposure.

If malignant melanoma is recognized and treated early, like in my case, it is almost always curable. However, if it has time to spread to other parts of the body, it becomes very difficult to treat and can lead to death.

Identifying Malignant Melanoma

The ABCDE Criteria can help you identify moles that could be malignant melanoma. Being aware of these criteria may very well save your life.

B = BorderBenign moles typically have a regular, round border. Cancerous moles tend to have irregular borders. If the border isnt smooth, you should get your mole checked out.

What About Other Treatments I Hear About

How to check your moles and freckles for melanoma

When you have cancer you might hear about other ways to treat the cancer or treat your symptoms. These may not always be standard medical treatments. These treatments may be vitamins, herbs, special diets, and other things. You may wonder about these treatments.

Some of these are known to help, but many have not been tested. Some have been shown not to help. A few have even been found to be harmful. Talk to your doctor about anything youre thinking about using, whether its a vitamin, a diet, or anything else.

Also Check: What To Do To Prevent Skin Cancer

Recommended Reading: What Is The Most Aggressive Skin Cancer

What Are The Symptoms Of Skin Cancer

Talk to your doctor if you notice changes in your skin such as a new growth, a sore that doesnt heal, a change in an old growth, or any of the A-B-C-D-Es of melanoma.

A change in your skin is the most common sign of skin cancer. This could be a new growth, a sore that doesnt heal, or a change in a mole.external icon Not all skin cancers look the same.

For melanoma specifically, a simple way to remember the warning signs is to remember the A-B-C-D-Es of melanoma

  • A stands for asymmetrical. Does the mole or spot have an irregular shape with two parts that look very different?
  • B stands for border. Is the border irregular or jagged?
  • C is for color. Is the color uneven?
  • D is for diameter. Is the mole or spot larger than the size of a pea?
  • E is for evolving. Has the mole or spot changed during the past few weeks or months?

Talk to your doctor if you notice changes in your skin such as a new growth, a sore that doesnt heal, a change in an old growth, or any of the A-B-C-D-Es of melanoma.

Can A Common Mole Turn Into Melanoma

Yes, but a common mole rarely turns into melanoma, which is the most serious type of skin cancer.

Although common moles are not cancerous, people who have more than 50 common moles have an increased chance of developing melanoma .

People should tell their doctor if they notice any of the following changes in a common mole :

  • The color changes.
  • It bleeds or oozes.

Also Check: Soderstrom Skin Cancer Screening

Biopsies Of Melanoma That May Have Spread

Biopsies of areas other than the skin may be needed in some cases. For example, if melanoma has already been diagnosed on the skin, nearby lymph nodes may be biopsied to see if the cancer has spread to them.

Rarely, biopsies may be needed to figure out what type of cancer someone has. For example, some melanomas can spread so quickly that they reach the lymph nodes, lungs, brain, or other areas while the original skin melanoma is still very small. Sometimes these tumors are found with imaging tests or other exams even before the melanoma on the skin is discovered. In other cases, they may be found long after a skin melanoma has been removed, so its not clear if its the same cancer.

In still other cases, melanoma may be found somewhere in the body without ever finding a spot on the skin. This may be because some skin lesions go away on their own after some of their cells have spread to other parts of the body. Melanoma can also start in internal organs, but this is very rare, and if melanoma has spread widely throughout the body, it may not be possible to tell exactly where it started.

When melanoma has spread to other organs, it can sometimes be confused with a cancer starting in that organ. For example, melanoma that has spread to the lung might be confused with a primary lung cancer .

Biopsies of suspicious areas inside the body often are more involved than those used to sample the skin.

Is There Anything Else I Need To Know About A Skin Cancer Screening

How To Check Your Skin

Exposure to the ultraviolet rays that come from the sun plays a major role in causing skin cancer. You are exposed to these rays anytime you are out in the sun, not just when you are at the beach or pool. But you can limit your sun exposure and help reduce your risk of skin cancer if you take a few simple precautions when out in the sun. These include:

  • Using a sunscreen with a sun protection factor of at least 30
  • Seeking shade when possible
  • Wearing a hat and sunglasses

Sunbathing also increases your risk of skin cancer. You should avoid outdoor sunbathing and never use an indoor tanning salon. There is no safe amount of exposure to artificial tanning beds, sunlamps, or other artificial tanning devices.

If you have questions about reducing your risk of skin cancer, talk to your health care provider.

Read Also: What Is Basal Carcinoma Cancer

Read Also: Basal Skin Cancer Survival Rates

Claire Crilly A Check4cancer Skin Cancer Specialist Nurse Discusses The Three Main Types Of Skin Cancer You Need To Be Aware Of And How To Spot The Signs And Symptoms

Most skin cancers are seen in sun-damaged skin after years of exposure to UV radiation or the burn from sunburn and are more common on parts of the skin exposed to the sun. This leads to a failure in the replication and repair mechanism of cells, some of these cells then start to produce abnormal copies and become cancerous.

There are three common types of skin cancer which can all look different and behave in different ways.

  • Pre-cancerous skin lesions which are known as Actinic Keratosis and Bowens Disease
  • Non-Melanoma skin cancers which are known as Basal Cell Carcinoma and Squamous Cell Carcinomas
  • Malignant Melanoma
  • We are going to investigate each of these three common types of skin cancer in more detail as being aware of the signs symptoms of skin cancer is crucial in early detection.

    Also Check: How To Treat Squamous Cell Carcinoma In The Mouth


    Popular Articles