ABCDEs of Skin Mole Monitoring

How to Monitor Your Skin Moles for Warning Signs

Last time I shared some interesting information on the benefits of healthy sunbathing.  The article reviewed, ‘Avoidance of sun exposure is a risk factor for all cause mortality: results from Melanoma in Southern Sweden cohort’ (Lindqvist P.G. et al 2014 in The Journal of Internal Medicine) found that there was a significant correlation between increased sunbathing and health.  The researchers found that more active sun exposure meant better health and decreased risk of death.

So how do you monitor for worrisome changes on your skin that can result from sunburns?  What could melanoma look like? Remember melanoma can occur in people who avoid the sun as well as in sunbathers, so you should know the signs regardless of your level of sun exposure.

Guidelines from the American Cancer Society on monitoring skin for signs of melanoma.

A – Asymmetry is worrisome. Normal moles should be symmetrical.

B – Boarders of moles should be regular, defined, and without notches.

C – Color should be uniform.  Red, blue and black moles or mixtures of these colors warrant special attention.

D – Diameters of moles greater than 6mm need evaluation.

E – Elevation of moles or skin marks that are changing need to be evaluated, especially when changing rapidly.

Family history also matters; find out if any one in your family ever had skin cancer.  People with fair skin, red or blond hair, light eyes, tendency to burn with lots of freckles are also at increased risk, but always keep any eye on your skin even if it seems your risk factors are low. 

Any time a mole on your skin changes rapidly have it checked.  Signs of the more common forms of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, include crusting of skin, an ulceration or indentation, elevation of the skin with a different color than your normal skin color, like pearly pink or grey. These will almost always be found in areas of high sun exposure. 

Remember the sun is good for us as noted in the previous article, and time spent out doors is crucial for good health.  So be informed, know your own body, and keep regular contact with your health care providers so you can healthfully enjoy the outdoors and all Nature’s gifts, including the sun’s healing rays.

Yours In Health, 
Dr. Erin