Most of us have moles on our skin. Often these are harmless, but sometimes they are cancerous. Melanoma is a serious type of skin cancer which is most commonly caused by overexposure to the sun. Australia has one of the highest rates of melanoma in the world, due to our harsh climate and outdoor lifestyle. While a healthy mole is benign and nothing to worry about, melanoma could be deadly.
It can be difficult to determine whether a mole is healthy or cancerous as they have some of the same characteristics. However, when you follow the ABCDE rule of moles, your self monitoring will be made easier. Remember, this shouldn’t replace your skin and mole checks, but it can help you to flag any new changes:
A is for asymmetry. A healthy mole will generally be symmetrical. This means if you split your mole down the middle, the two sides will be a mirror image of each other. If you notice a mole is inconsistent on both sides, this can be a sign of skin cancer. While there are exceptions to this asymmetry rule, we recommend seeking an expert opinion. This is even more important if this is a new development.
B is for border. When a mole or spot is round it is generally an indication that it is non cancerous. Blurred, or rough edges can be a sign of pre-cancer or melanoma, and these moles should be checked by a professional.
C is for colour. Most moles are one colour, and will usually be in a shade of brown. When moles change colour over time, or have multiple shades in one, this could be a sign of melanoma. These shades could be brown, black, or even red, or pink.
D is for diameter. While melanoma doesn’t only occur in oversized moles, when a mole is large or growing, it could be a sign of skin cancer. To determine this, check the size against the eraser on the end of a pencil. Anything larger than this should be assessed by a skin care professional.
E is for elevation. A raised mole with an uneven surface could be a melanoma. This will look different to other moles on your body, and may be changing and evolving in appearance. Elevated moles are one feature your skin specialist will look at when determining the risk of skin cancer.
When you have a skin and mole check the ABCDE may be used to identify abnormalities. This is a good starting point for self-checks, but it is important to remember that sometimes these changes may only be visible with a special microscopic tool. Not all melanomas will fit the ABCDE criteria, but if you notice any of the above they should be assessed.
At My Skin Centre we have 9 skin check locations in the Perth region. If you are concerned about a mole, please contact us to book an appointment.
With multiple locations throughout Perth and the South West there is a clinic near you!