On average, a person typically has anywhere between 30 to 40 moles on their body. Indeed, most moles are largely benign and are generally not a cause for worry. However, although rare, some moles may become cancerous.
Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that occurs when pigment cells mutate and divide uncontrollably. While rare, Melanoma is serious as it can spread rapidly to the rest of the body if not detected early.
To help with early detection, it is crucial to monitor moles overtime to detect any atypical or abnormal development. While most moles and spots are harmless, as previously mentioned, it never hurts to err on the side of caution.
Medical professionals generally promote these ABCDEs of Melanoma to help with early detection.
Most cancerous moles are asymmetrical. A way to check for asymmetry is to draw a line through the spot and check if the halves match.
Benign moles typically have smoother, well-defined borders. On the other hand, cancerous moles may have borders that are fuzzy, uneven or even scalloped.
In the animal world, brightly coloured animals are typically a sign of danger. Likewise, if your mole is an odd colour like blue or red, visit your doctor. Besides atypical colours, cancerous moles may also contain multiple colours, like different shades of brown.
A rapidly growing mole should be highlighted to your doctor. Normal moles are generally smaller than 6mm, so if you notice any mole bigger than this diameter, it would be better to alert it to your doctor for further checking. Nonetheless, size is not a 100% accurate indicator of cancerous growth. A normal mole can be larger than 6mm, and there have also been reports of cancerous moles smaller than 6mm.
Is your mole changing? Size, shape, elevation, colour – you should keep a lookout to see if your mole changes over time with regards to these aspects. Bleeding, crusting, or itching of moles are also well-documented warning signs.