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September 26, 2019

Find a new mole? Here's what you should do next

Most moles are harmless but some are indicative of skin cancer

After a summer spent playing in the sun, have you noticed new moles on your skin?

Moles – small brown spots on your skin – are comprised of pigmented skin cells called melanocytes that cluster together. They can be found on the body, resulting from a combination of genetics and sun damage. 

Moles can appear either flat or raised, and are usually less than a quarter inch in diameter.

In general, they are nothing to worry about; however, sometimes they can be a sign of malignant melanoma, a dangerous form of skin cancer.

“Melanomas account for less than 5 percent of all skin cancers, but result in approximately 75 percent of all skin cancer-related deaths," according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. "Each year, over 9,000 people with melanoma will die of the disease.”

How do you know when to worry about a new mole? Dermatologists recommend you use the ABCDE guide when evaluating a mole:

• Asymmetrical shape: Are the two halves of the mole different in some way, like in texture or color?

• Border: Are the borders of the mole uneven or irregular?

• Color: Is the color uneven throughout the mole or has it changed since the last time you inspected it?

• Diameter: Is it larger than a quarter inch in diameter?

• Evolving: Has a mole changed in color, shape or size? Is it easily irritated or does it bleed often?

If you are worried about the look of any of your moles, schedule a dermatology appointment as soon as possible. Based on a physical evaluation, a dermatologist may do a biopsy to rule out cancer.

Additionally, the Cleveland Clinic recommends that people get all new moles that pop up on your skin after the age of 20 evaluated.

Do you have a lot of moles on your skin and find it hard to keep track of all of them? For peace of mind, get a yearly dermatology check up to catch any problems as early as possible.

Sources used to write this story include the Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins Medicine and The Cleveland Clinic.

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