Moles are common. Most have between 10 and 45 scattered across their bodies, though the number varies widely between people. Moles usually don’t become cancerous, but in rare cases, they can be the starting point for melanoma, the most aggressive and dangerous form of skin cancer.
When moles do become malignant, there are usually signs that indicate the changes. If you’re already mole mapping with a dermatology practice like MD Vein & Skin Specialists in Columbia, Maryland, it’s easier to discover these changes because there’s a photographic record of the moles on your body. Dr. Clement Banda and our team use this innovative technique to help you stay cancer-free.
Help! My mole has changed size and shape
When you notice changes in an existing mole, it can be frightening since mole changes can signal the start of a cancerous lesion.
It’s important to note that moles can change naturally over time without becoming malignant. In fact, chances are that minor, slow changes aren’t a sign of cancer.
However, there’s no way to recognize skin cancer with certainty using visual cues alone, so all mole changes should be evaluated medically with Dr. Banda to ensure your long-term health.
What does a changing mole look like?
Typical moles are brown round spots, usually darker than (but sometimes the same color as) the surrounding skin. However, moles come in different shapes, sizes, colors, and textures. The important factor is not how a mole starts but how it changes over time.
Size and shape are often the most noticeable mole changes, but these aren’t the only differences that suggest you need a cancer screening. The color and texture of a mole can also change. Once again, the change rather than the initial appearance of a mole suggests a problem.
The ABCDE guide
A handy way to evaluate your own moles is the ABCDE guide to easily recall the factors that might indicate malignant changes. ABCDE stands for:
- Asymmetrical shape: a mole becomes different on one side
- Border: a mole’s edge becomes ragged or scalloped against the surrounding skin
- Color: including changes from a mole’s original color, new unevenness, or additional colors begin to appear
- Diameter: a mole grows beyond a diameter of about one-quarter inch
- Evolving: any change occurring in a mole, including bleeding, irritation, or itchiness
If you have even one ABCDE change, it’s time for an examination. There’s no standard appearance for a malignant mole, so a new growth may not look like one you’ve had previously and may be different than someone else’s.
Protecting yourself against skin cancer requires action. Don’t take a wait-and-see approach if you suspect mole changes. Better still, start a mole mapping program with MD Vein & Skin Specialists so that cancer screening becomes a regular part of your medical care.
Request an appointment online or by phone with our office today.