We check all moles with dermoscopy. Dermatoscopes have magnified, polarized lenses which allow us to see through the top layer of skin. The additional features that we can then see can help us to identify suspicious spots early or to reassure us that a spot is benign. Moles that are itchy, painful, bleeding or growing need to be checked at a spot check ASAP.
What are some of the warning signs of Melanoma?
Throughout the year, you should examine your skin head-to-toe once a month. Self-exams can help you identify potential skin cancers early, when they can almost always be completely cured. When checking your skin, follow the ABCDE method and look for the following things when checking moles or spots:
- Asymmetry: If you draw a line through a mole, the two halves will not match.
- Border: The borders of an early melanoma tend to be uneven, scalloped or notched.
- Color: Multiple colors (brown, black, or tan) in a mole is a warning sign for melanoma. A number of different shades of brown, tan or black could appear. Melanomas may also become red, blue or another color.
- Diameter: When the ABCD’s of melanoma were first described, “D” stood for “Diameter larger than the size of a pencil eraser” (1/4 inch or 6 mm). To catch melanomas as early as possible, many dermatologists now use the letter “D” to mean “Different.” Melanomas are frequently “Ugly Ducklings” and look different from the other moles on your skin.
- Evolving: If a mole changes in size, shape, color or elevation, or develops symptoms such as bleeding, itching or crusting, it should be checked by your dermatologist.
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