For some people, a mole is merely a blemish that causes embarrassment. For approximately 40 to 50 percent of fair-skinned individuals who live to be 65, the mole or blemish ends up being a type of cancer. Skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer, but many believe their mole or blemish is nothing. People, you included, must be cautious and recognize the signs to catch it early for the best prognosis.
What is a Mole?
A mole is a growth on the skin that appears as a small, dark brown spot. It’s caused by a cluster of pigmented skin cells. It’s very common for a person to have 10 to 45 moles by the time they’re 50 years old, even though they usually appear during childhood or adolescence. Despite skin cancer being a prevalent concern, it’s rare they’re cancerous.
When Should You Have a Mole Evaluated?
According to the American Cancer Society, about eight out of 10 forms of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma. Generally, this form looks like a red or pink raised bump or a flat area. In some instances, the lesion may have one or more abnormal blood vessels. Sometimes, the area may bleed and look similar to a mole due to its dark color. Other times, there may be a blue, black or brown area in the center that makes it look more like a mole.
A standard mole tends to be uniform in color. Usually, it’s brown, black or tan. Moles may also be blue, white or red. Color becomes a concern when the mole changes color or when the color isn’t consistent throughout. For instance, the center of the mole is another color that the outside of it is a cause to be alarmed. Anytime a mole is two or more colors, it’s best to get it checked out. Melanoma for example, is one form of cancer that may appear as a multicolored mole.
One of the most relevant factors in deciding when to get a mole examined is when it’s asymmetrical. Typical moles are round or oval in shape and have symmetry, meaning they’re the same on both sides. An asymmetrical mole is when the mole isn’t completely round. Both halves of the mole aren’t the same size and shape.
You should also look at the border of the mole. If the border of the mole is irregular, it’s a cause for concern. A standard, non-cancerous mole is round the entire way around. It doesn’t have edges that are wavy or look like a paint splatter.
Keep in mind, a mole should stay the same all of your life. It shouldn’t change color, shape or size at any time. A mole that starts out as a normal mole can change over time and become malignant.
Diameter of the mole plays a role in whether or not you should worry. Most moles are the size of an eraser or smaller. Any larger might signify the mole is cancerous.
A normal, malignant mole shouldn’t appear as a bright red color or have red around it. A common mole doesn’t itch or bleed. These are both signs an expert is needed to evaluate it.
Why Should You Get a Mole Evaluated?
The earlier a mole is evaluated and tested for cancer, the earlier it can be treated. Early detection means it has less time to get bigger or metastasize. Keep in mind, once a person has skin cancer, it’s possible for it to spread to organs. Oftentimes, it goes to the lymph nodes first. Getting the mole evaluated, especially early, can save a person’s life. It can also save a great deal of skin because depending on the procedure, the surgeon may take more than just where the affected area is.
Skin cancer affects one in five Americans each year. Over 3.5 million new cases are diagnosed each year. With that many people being diagnosed each year, why wait and risk it? This is especially the case since cancer can spread and lead to serious complications. To learn more about skin cancer or to schedule a skin evaluation with a skilled dermatologist, contact the Boulevard Medical Healthcare at 718-325-9532 or schedule an appointment.