7-Step Guide to Identifying Moles at Risk

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“It can be difficult to tell the difference between a non-cancerous mole and a cancerous mole, especially if you have a lot of moles or freckles,” says Dr. Desai. “But there are telltale signs you can watch out for. The A to G method provides a good basis for identifying potentially troublesome moles.

A: Asymmetry

Normal moles or freckles are completely symmetrical. If you were to draw a line through a normal point, you would have two symmetrical halves. In skin cancer, the spots do not look the same on both sides.

B: Border

A mole or spot with soft and/or jagged edges should be examined by a doctor.

C: Color

A mole that has more than one shade is suspicious and should be evaluated by a doctor. Normal spots are usually one color. This may include lightening or darkening the mole. Melanoma cells typically continue to produce melanin, which explains cancers appearing in mixed shades of tan, brown, and black.

D: Diameter

If it is larger than a pencil eraser (about ¼ inch or 6 mm), it should be checked by a doctor. This includes areas that have no other abnormalities (color, border, asymmetry). But don’t rely on size alone – melanoma can be smaller.

E: Rise/evolution

Elevation means the mole is raised above the surface and has an uneven surface. To evolve means to change in size, shape and color.

F: Firm on palpation

This means if one of your moles changes from a softer, spongier consistency to a firm consistency.

G: Gradual growth over one month

A mole should remain of a constant size. If your mole continues to grow for more than a month, talk to your doctor.

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