West Houston Dermatology

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A, B, C, Ds of MOLES

Skin conditions - moles


Early detection of skin cancer often depends on an individual’s awareness of his or her skin, and the ability to recognize changes in the skin’s appearance. Dermatologists recommend that individuals examine their skin regularly and thoroughly for the appearance of any unusual moles, blemishes, sores or discoloration. The following conditions may be the first signs of cancer:

  • A skin growth that appears suddenly or increases in size, and appears pearly, translucent, tan, brown, black or multicolored.
  • An unusual change in a mole or other pigmented area. Watch for changes in color, size, texture or consistency, and for irregularities in the mole’s shape or border.
  • A lesion or growth that continues to itch, hurt, crust, scab, ulcerate, erode or bleed.
  • An open sore or wound that does not heals and the reopens.

The importance of early detection of malignant melanoma cannot be overemphasized, as there is a direct correlation between early detection and survival rate. The warning signs include:

  • Asymmetry. Unlike benign moles, which are generally round and symmetrical, early melanomas usually are shaped irregularly. Draw a line down the center of the mole or growth. If the pattern on both sides of the line is not equal, then that lesion is asymmetrical.
  • Borders. Malignant melanomas generally have irregular edges.
  • Color variegation. The color of malignant melanomas is often variegated (mottled), ranging from tan to brown and black, and sometimes containing blue, red or white areas within the mole.
  • Diameter enlargement. Diameter enlargement of a mole in excess of six millimeters may be a warning sign of melanoma.