There are Moles, and Then There are MOLES

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Identifying Moles

When it’s time to call a doctor

By Michelle Ochsner

Skin cancer is the most common of all cancers in the United States. Being proactive by examining your skin regularly helps reduce your chances of developing melanoma, the most serious type of skin malignancy.

The best defense against melanoma is the usage of sun protection barriers. Noted in the 2011 Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology sunburns and indoor tanning are the main contributors to skin cancer. Less than 40% of children wear sun protection, and 34.4% of adults had burns from ultraviolet lights from the sun. The CDC declares up to 90% of melanomas are due to exposure to UV rays.

No matter your age, it’s never too early to self examine moles and check for signs of skin cancer. Detection is important to catch cancer of the skin early. The ABC’s of Melanoma and when to contact a doctor are:

Asymmetrical Shape: It isn’t necessary for the mole to be in any particular shape. However, the mole should not show a discrepancy from one side to the other.

  • Border: Normal moles are regular in uniformity. The border should not be ragged, blurred, or uneven.
  • Color: Moles can be exceedingly light, or nearly black. If there is an assortment of color, such as brown, red, white, black, or blue, a medical consultation is essential.
  • Diameter: The mole should not exceed 6mm in diameter, the size of a pencil eraser.
    Elevation: There are many moles raised from the skin that are not malignant.

Nevertheless, get them checked. Always better to be safe.

According to the Melanoma Research Foundation, most moles on the body are benign. It is important to check your skin regularly as most melanomas are found by the person, not a doctor. Those with more than 100 moles are at higher risk and will benefit from yearly checkups.

The most effective way of prevention is to know your body. You’ve only got one, and you know it better than anyone else. A good way to track a mole is to take pictures and compare those photos yearly. If there are signs of cancer, contact your doctor immediately.

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