First, some good news. Despite the fact that 90 percent of moles have cancer-causing properties, most of them will never become malignant.
Research has predicted, however, that one in five Americans will develop melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, at some point during their lives.
Now, we don’t know about you, but the fear of the second fact far outweighs the reassurance of the first. Which is why keeping an eye on your moles is up there with examining your breasts as one of the most important self-health checks you can possibly partake in.
The basic rule of thumb is to inspect your skin and moles, from toes to scalp and everything in between, at least once a month. Depending on your family’s history of skin cancer and your propensity to burn, you should also have an in-office check every six to 12 months. And if you think a mole has changed even slightly, get it checked out immediately. When caught early, skin cancer has a 98 percent cure rate. But the key is catching it early.
If you’re not 100 percent sure what a suspicious mole looks like, the Skin Cancer Foundation has come up with a cunning way of spotting the warning signs using your good old ABCs…
A is for Asymmetry: Benign moles are generally symmetrical, whereas an asymmetrical mole (ie: when the two halves don’t match if you draw a line through the middle) is a warning sign for melanoma. Eyes peeled.
B is for Border: Unlike a regular mole, the outline of melanoma is often ragged or notched, rather than smooth and sharp.
C is for Color: If you see a mole that’s a number of different colors, including brown, black, red, white, even blue, this is a big warning to make an appointment with your physician to get it examined.
D is for Diameter: Malignant moles are usually much bigger than benign ones, so be aware of unusually large moles and get them checked out.
E is for Evolving: Any change – whether it’s in size, color, shape or itchiness – is also a warning sign, so be on alert at all times.
May we also remind you that in addition to self-checking your moles regularly, you should always shield your skin from the dangers of the sun. Need a crash course in proper protection? Everything You Need To Know About Sunscreen is right here.
Written by: Georgia Gould