Do you have a new mole or a long-standing one that suddenly looks different or acts oddly? If so, contact Dr. Elizabeth Fahrenbach of North Branch Dermatology in Chicago, IL, for a mole check, for changes in moles may indicate cancer—even deadly malignant melanoma.
What is a mole?
A mole is a slightly raised round or oval area of hyperpigmentation on the skin. While people may acquire moles in their later years, most moles appear by early adulthood, fade over time, or stay unchanged for a lifetime. Although moles can initially appear in clusters, healthy moles do not spread beyond their well-defined borders or multiply in number.
What is skin cancer?
Skin cancer is the most frequently occurring cancer in the United States, reports Healthline. It typically falls into three categories: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and malignant melanoma.
Sadly, malignant melanoma is deadly when undetected until later stages. Moles can evolve into melanoma, and melanoma can easily be mistaken for a healthy mole. That's why Dr. Fahrenbach recommends people over the age of 40 get yearly skin exams in her Chicago office, including checks of moles.
Your skin doctor in Chicago also advises monthly exams at home, too. Inspect all areas of your skin, including scalp, back and between the toes, looking for areas of change. Enlist the help of a family member for more hidden parts of the body.
To check moles, employ this mnemonic for cancer:
- A is for asymmetry. If you bisect a mole, each side should be equal in size and shape.
- B is for border. A healthy mole has a smooth border with no scallops or notches.
- C means color. Most benign moles are brown to black. Some are even pink or tan. A cancerous mole has variegated color, or the color may change over time.
- D stands for diameter. Benign moles are no larger than a pencil eraser.
- E means evolution. Moles should not grow in size, shape, color, or texture. A mole which begins to itch or bleed must be checked immediately. The American Cancer Society says if a mole begins to look different from other moles you have, see your dermatologist.
Be safe: get your mole checked
Know your skin. If you question the health of a mole or any other area, contact North Branch Dermatology in Chicago for a mole check. Dr. Elizabeth Fahrenbach and her team will help you and your skin stay healthy. Contact the office for an appointment: (773) 763-6000.