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Tips for Monitoring Changing Moles

Just about everyone has at least one mole somewhere on their body. Moles are the result of skin cells called melanocytes that grow together in a cluster instead of being dispersed throughout the skin as they normally would. A raised or flat mole can develop anywhere on the body, and they are often quite harmless. However, this is not always the case. A new mole or a mole that changes over time could potentially be a sign that the mole is cancerous or pre-cancerous, which is why it is a good idea to have any new skin growth, or one that is looking or acting differently than it used to, evaluated to rule out any dangers.

Here are a few tips for monitoring changing moles that can help you determine whether it is time for a professional skin evaluation:

Look for the ABCDEs of Melanoma

A handy way of examining moles is to keep in mind the ABCDEs of melanoma, which is the most severe type of skin cancer. The ABCDEs include:

Asymmetry – One part of the mole is not symmetrical with the other part, appearing lopsided or irregular in shape.
Border – The borders/edges of the mole are ill-defined or irregular.
Colour – The mole has changed in colour over time and/or is not the same colour in all areas. It may have shades of black, brown, tan, white, red, or even blue.
Diameter – The mole is 6mm or larger in diameter (as big or bigger than a pencil eraser).
Evolution – The mole’s shape, size, or colour has changed.

Also, remember that a melanoma does not always look like a “bump” or growth in its beginning stages—it may first appear as a discoloured, flat spot on the skin, so it is important to have it checked just as you would a bumpy growth. If a mole or growth is bleeding, itching, causing pain, or generating any other unusual signs, please schedule an evaluation as soon as possible since these may be signals that something is wrong.

Routine Self-Exams

Conduct regular self-examinations of your skin on all areas of your body, including those that can be challenging to see, at least once each month. While it is very important to take a close look at areas of the skin that are most exposed to the sun, be sure to check all areas since moles and growths can develop anywhere at any time. If there are new growths or changes to existing growths, it is time to get those checked out.

Keep Records for Continuous Monitoring

It can be helpful to maintain an updated photographic record of any growths on your skin. As you do your routine self-examinations, you can refer back to it to see if there have been any changes (slight or severe) to moles or other growths over time.

Skin cancer that is caught in early stages has the best chance of being successfully addressed while reducing the potential of spread to other areas of the body. In many cases, when caught early, a cancerous or pre-cancerous mole can be removed with minimal aesthetic damage to the skin. The important thing is to be vigilant about self-exams and to schedule a professional examination at the first sign of anything unusual. It is also important to have an annual professional skin evaluation just as a routine check-up. The Layt Clinic has a special focus on skin cancer treatment and we offer a number of advanced options designed to effectively remove skin cancers and other skin lesions while reducing signs of scarring.

For additional information, or if you would like to schedule a consultation, please contact The Layt Clinic today.