An abnormal mole is a sign that to pay attention to. When there are changes to the appearance of a normal mole, we shouldn’t ignore it. Any mole can turn into melanoma or skin cancer.
A mole is a grouping of pigmented cells. The majority of the time, it’s a benign formation that doesn’t present any risks. It’s normal for adolescents to have around 15 to 20 moles. As for adults, that number can vary between 20 and 40.
The majority of skin cancer cases appear after the age of 40. Because of this, if an abnormal mole appears, you shouldn’t put off seeing a specialist. It could be a matter of life or death.
Identifying an abnormal mole
To be able to identify an abnormal mole and distinguish it from regular ones, you should keep in mind their four main aspects.
They are the following:
- Asymmetry. An abnormal mole is asymmetrical. One half of the mole is different from the other half. This could be a sign of a malignant mole.
- Irregularity around the edges. A normal mole has a circular form with defined edges. When this isn’t the case and the edges are irregular, you should question it.
- The color. Moles that are very dark or that have a reddish color should be examined.
- The diameter. It’s an abnormal mole when its diameter measures more than 6 mm. However, there are also small moles that can be cancerous.
In addition to the previous aspects, it’s also important to watch the changes of the abnormal mole. We suggest that you get it checked out monthly to see if it has changed in any way. It’s also a good idea to check your back, since melanoma often appears on the lower area of the back.
Other signs of abnormal moles
Although the previous signs are the most characteristic of abnormal moles, they are not the only ones. In some cases, the symptoms can differ.
Because of this, it’s important to watch out for the following signs:
- Propagation. When there is a mole or spot and it starts to spread to the surrounding skin, you should get it checked out.
- Redness and inflammation. When the surrounding area turns red and/or gets inflamed, you should see a professional.
- Additional sensations. A normal mole doesn’t cause any abnormal sensations. If you experience itching, burning or pain, there may be an issue.
- Changes of the surface. If there is blood, exudation or peeling, you should be careful. Also, pay attention to whether small nodules or bumps form inside of the same mole.
In these cases, the next step you should take is contacting your dermatologist. Only a professional in this area can determine if it is a malign issue. You should talk to him or her as soon as possible.
Moles and melanoma
Melanoma is a malignant tumor.
Its initial appearance is very similar to that of a mole. This type of cancer can appear at any age. If it’s detected on time, it’s completely treatable and curable, but it tends to reappear.
Those who have the highest risk of suffering from melanoma are those with light skin. Sun exposure or using lamps with UV lights without protection are also risk factors.
In addition, 10% of cases are genetic. People with a family history of melanoma have a higher risk of contracting it.
The best prevention measures are to use sun protection and to avoid UV lamps. Wear a hat when you are walking outside and the sun is very intense. You should also apply sunscreen daily.
The first thing that the dermatologist does is a detailed inspection of your skin. They will inspect your moles and the surrounding areas. They will also examine other areas of the body for any signs of melanoma.
Usually, they will order a biopsy of the skin if there is an abnormal mole. When possible they will remove the mole completely in the same biopsy. This area will be subject to microscopical analysis in a laboratory. There, they will determine if there are any cancerous cells or not.
The results of the biopsy should include how deep the tumorous lesion is. This grade or level will be expressed in millimeters. This data is decisive in deciding on a treatment and establishing a prognosis.
Some types of melanoma propagate quickly. In these cases, it is also necessary to get a biopsy of the lymph nodes that are by the lesion. Also, they may order radio-logic examinations of the brain, neck, thorax, abdomen, pelvis and bones.