Identifying Cancerous Moles

Almost everyone has common moles, which are developed, when melanocytes (pigments cells) grow in clusters. Most common moles are located in skin areas that are exposed to sun, but it is not unusual to see them on the scalp, buttocks, and breasts.

While many infants are born with common moles, bun t they may not make their appearance until they are older. It has been determined that moles stop developing on humans, by the age of 40, with many of them dissipating by older adulthood.

How to Identify Cancerous Moles

One way to identify a common mole is by its actual size, which should be no larger than 5 mm (around 1/4″). Its surface should be smooth and have a round shape, with a specific edge. Most often than not the common mole will also have a dome-shape. While individuals that have a dark skin pigment will have tan to brown colored moles, those with light skin pigment will have pink or tan colored moles.

Common Mole

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While it is important to monitor common skin moles for color, shape, size, and surface alterations, they rarely turn into melanoma. When trying to determine if you have melanoma, you should follow the “ABCDE” rule.

  • A – Asymmetry – shape of one-half will not match the other half
  • B – Border – irregular with ragged or notched edges. Edges may be blurred in outline and pigment may spread into nearby skin areas
  • C – Color – uneven shades of tan, black, and brown, with possible red, pink, blue, gray, and white
  • D – Diameter – size will usually increase. Although melanomas are small, most will be wider than 6 mm
  • E – Evolving – changes in the mole has occurred over several weeks to months

Identifying Cancerous Moles

Melanoma starts in the melanocytes and it can be very dangerous, if not treated early. Not only can it metastasize into nearby skin tissues, but it can metastasize into the organs (brain, liver, lungs) and bones.

Although melanoma can develop from a common mole or dysplastic nevus (atypical mole), they can develop on any normal skin surface. Melanoma can also begin in the digestive tract and the eye.

Males will often develop melanoma on the back, neck, and scalp, while females will develop them on the back and lower extremities (NIH). Fair skin individuals are also at a higher risk for developing melanoma than dark skin individuals.

ABCDE Characteristics

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Cancerous Moles Images

Benign & Malignant Moles

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Cancerous Moles Symptoms

Melanoma is cancerous and over 800,000 individuals living within the United States has been diagnosed with melanoma at some point in their life (NIH).

  • Moles wider than 6 mm
  • Uneven colors
  • Irregular shaped
  • Asymmetrical edges (see above explanation)
  • Lumpy/hard surface
  • May bleed or ooze

If you see signs of cancerous moles, you should make an appointment with your primary care physician or dermatologist.

Malignant Moles

There are many risk factors that will increase an individual’s chance of getting melanoma and the biggest one is excessive exposure to the sunlight. Ultraviolent rays definitely damages the skin, which can lead to melanoma.