The mole is a common occurrence in the skin, usually appearing as a small brown, black, or tan spot with a distinct border. Though rarely cancerous, moles still must be scrutinized for early signals of malignancy. Following is a look at moles that are harmless–and those to be viewed with suspicion.
The average mole is round, oval, and usually the size of a pencil eraser. These moles often show up in children and adolescents, and most people don’t develop new ones past age 40. Over time, the average person will experience about 50 moles in various parts of the body.
When a person approaches 100 moles or more, the risk for cancer increases. According to the Mayo Clinic, melanomas and other skin cancers can develop anywhere on the body, usually in areas that have been exposed to the sun. Melanomas can also develop in such obscure areas as between toes, soles of the feet, even the genitals. People with darker skin usually develop melanomas in these areas.
The Response to Melanomas
The time-honored, most effective response to potential melanomas is early detection. Upon review of these ABCDE’s of potential malignant melanoma, do not delay in seeing a dermatologist for an examination of suspicious moles.
– Asymmetrical shape: Moles with uneven shapes and those in which half of the mole does not match the other half.
– Borders: Edges that are notched, ragged, blurred, or smudgy.
– Colors: Black, blue, red, and white growths that are changing and uneven, or moles that are more than one color of brown or appear mottled.
– Diameter: Any sudden growth in which a mole’s diameter exceeds that of a pencil.
– Evolution: An existing mole changes in shape, size, and color. Also, new developments such as bleeding, itchiness, any failure to heal, and the appearance of new pigmentation.
The “E” is the most important of the five letters of warning.
What to Do If You Find a Suspicious Mole
Suspicious moles are rarely painful, but when cancerous symptoms arise, it’s imperative they be examined by a dermatological specialist. Please call The Dermatology Clinic at 225-769-7546 with your concerns or fill out our contact form.