Beauty marks make a person unique! Moles (also known as nevi in medical terms) can develop on the skin’s surface in any location and at any time in one’s life. Colours can vary from pink or red to light or dark brown or to black and they can be flat or raised. While the vast majority of new moles are healthy and normal, there are some important characteristics to be aware of that may require further investigation.
Skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer and can take on one of 3 types. Basal cell carcinoma and Squamous cell carcinoma develops in up to 500,000 people in the US per year. Melanoma is about 10 times less common but is one of the most fatal cancers in humans. By following the ABCD’s of self-examination, melanomas can be found in early stages and treated successfully. Regular examination by a physician is recommended for people with many moles or a family history of melanoma.
When examining your moles, uses these criteria to determine if a mole should be observed by a specialist.
A = asymmetry. Does the mole have differences from one part of it to the other?
B = border irregularity. Are the edges rough and changeable instead of smooth and rounded?
C = colour. Are there colour changes or patches within the mole?
D = diameter. Is the mole larger than 6mm (about the size of a pencil eraser)?
If you can answer yes to any of the above questions, observation by a medical professional is advised. One of the major risk factors with all 3 types of cancer is chronic or excessive sun exposure. Remember to monitor time in the sun and consider using sunscreen when staying outdoors for longer periods of time.