Moles are commonly described as skin growths that may appear on any part of the body. They are the result of skin cells growing in a clustered formation rather than being spread evenly over the skin’s surface. They may appear flat or be raised above the skin. Benign moles feature uniform coloration and distinct borders, offering no cause for concern. Nonetheless, people who have moles must regularly screen themselves to determine whether or not any of their moles have the potential of being cancerous.
Should I Be Concerned?
The majority of moles appear during childhood or adolescence and are not in themselves a cause for concern. However, people who develop a new mole after the age of 30 should consult with their physician to determine definitively whether or not the growth is cancerous. Similarly, moles that have changed should also be reviewed by a doctor. Regular screening at home is the best way to determine if new moles have developed or if there are changes to existing moles.
People with a high density of moles, such as 100 or more, should perform a screening once a month. Those with few moles may only need to do so on a quarterly basis. For the screening, remove all clothing and stand before a full length mirror. Begin at the head, working slowly down to the soles of the feet. Remember to check the front, back and sides of each body part. The check should include the scalp and the palms of the hands. If necessary, a family member can help screen the areas that are difficult to see.
Photographs can be enormously helpful when tracking whether or not moles have changed between screenings. Make certain that all pictures are dated so that it will be easy to note the changes. Photos that show alterations should definitely trigger a doctor’s appointment.
When to Visit a Dermatology
Several potential problems might be noted during the screening. Look for moles that are asymmetrical. If one half of a mole appears different from the other half, then it is asymmetrical. Irregular or blurred edges on a mole may also be a cause for concern. Moles that have various colors in the same growth or exhibit an unusual color like white or red may need to be examined. Use the eraser of a pencil to determine the diameter of the moles. Growths that feature a diameter larger than the eraser should be inspected by a physician.
Skin cancer comes in many forms, and some of the ones that are related to moles can be particularly dangerous. Left untreated, these cancers can be life threatening. Regular screening is one of the best tools available to catch cancer in its early stages and promote successful treatment.
Peter Wendt is a writer and researcher from Austin, TX. He enjoys sharing his knowledge of health issues with his readers and suggests his friends in the Northeast visit Vanguard Dermatology if they’re in need of New York Dermatologists.