If you have a mole on your skin that you feel looks different, you may be worried about it being skin cancer. Although different types of cancer can take on different appearances, there are four things in common you can look for while examining a suspicious-looking mole.
Shape Of The Mole Looks Odd
While looking at the mole, examine its shape. Normally, the edges of a mole are smooth and rounded. While it may not be a perfect circle, a normal mole is generally even all the way around.
However, when cancerous cells are present, one or more sides of the mole may start to spread out. The edges may start to appear almost spikey, and the growth no longer resembles a circle. If your mole has started to spread out in different directions, have a doctor examine it as soon as possible.
Color Starts Changing
Along with the shape of the mole, look at the color. Moles are usually light to dark brown, depending on how much exposure they have had to the sun. However, when it turns to cancer, the color starts changing, and the tone of the shades are often uneven.
For example, moles with basal cell carcinoma start to turn a reddish color with possible white patches mixed in. Or the mole may turn pearl white with no reddening of the skin. However, if the mole contains melanoma cancer cells, the mole will turn blackish brown to completely black. Especially if you see color changes along with changes in the shape, you should seek a diagnosis from your doctor.
Mole Becomes Crusty And Scaley
Another cause for concern while self-examining a suspicious mole is if there is a crusty, scaley layer on top of it. If you see this, it is possible that the cancer cells have started to spread into the dermis of your skin, causing blood and lymph to seep through the surface layers.
When combined with the first two symptoms discussed above, this is a serious indication that you could have skin cancer. You should contact your doctor immediately to schedule an appointment. After examining the mole, they may want to schedule minor skin surgery to biopsy the growth. This is especially true if there is an increase in the mole's size, as discussed below.
Dramatic Size Increase Within A Short Time Frame
Usually, moles do not grow more than a few millimeters in diameter. However, if cancer is present, the affected cells can grow at an incredibly accelerated rate. And since the skin sheds and replenishes itself quickly, this could cause skin cancer cells to multiply rapidly. As a result, you could see a dramatic size increase within a short time frame. Within a few weeks or months, the mole could double or triple in size.
Especially if the mole has become asymmetrical, changed color, and has discharge, you should not wait to see your doctor. Depending on the type of skin cancer present, if any, you will most likely need to have the mole and surrounding tissue removed. You may also need to have a battery of other tests to see if the cells have spread to other parts of the body.
If you notice one or more of the symptoms above, do not wait for further changes. You need to have the mole looked at as soon as possible. You should contact a dcotro at a clinic like Countryside Dermatology & Laser Center so they can diagnose the mole to see if it is cancer, as well as discuss treatment options with you, such as having surgery to remove and biopsy the growth.