Understanding The Warning Signs Of Skin Cancer

By Alley Benton
Updated December 29, 2016
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Understanding The Warning Signs Of Skin CancerUnusual moles, lumps, sores, markings, blemishes, or changes to how a patch of skin feels or looks, could be a sign of skin cancer, or a sign of it starting to develop. It is important, therefore, to be able to recognize the warning signs of skin cancer and how to distinguish them from normal moles. Normal moles tend to be black, tan, or brown, and evenly colored. They can be raised or flat, oval or round. Usually, they are no larger than 1/4 inch in diameter). Sometimes, people are born with them, but more will develop right into young adulthood. After that, however, new moles should be checked out.

A normal mole will usually look the same throughout someone's life, although some may fade away. The majority of moles are harmless, and most people have them. However, you must be able to recognize changes in them. Changes could be indicative of developing skin cancer.

Understanding the Warning Signs of Skin Cancer:

A new spot or mole, or one that changes in color, shape, or size, are the most important sign to look for. Also, any spot that is very different from others, called the "ugly duckling", should get checked out. Dermatologists tend to use the ABCDE rule:

  • Asymmetry, whereby one half of the spot does not match the other.
  • Border, with irregular, notched, ragged, or blurred borders being concerning.
  • Color, whereby the mole is unevenly colored, or has patches and shades within it.
  • Diameter, whereby the mole is larger than the average size of a pencil eraser in diameter.
  • Evolving, whereby the mole starts to change in color, shape, or size.

However, sometimes, a melanoma does not follow any of the ABCDE rules. At other times, a mole follows all of the ABCDE rules, yet isn't a melanoma. This is why you need to, firstly, know your own body and, secondly, speak to a doctor if you have any concerns at all. Early detection is key to successful recovery. Some other warning signs of skin cancer to be aware of include:

  • Sores that do not heal
  • The pigment of the border of a mole spreads into the skin around it.
  • A new swelling or redness outside of the mole's natural border
  • Changes in how the area of skin feels, such as pain, tenderness, or itching
  • Changes in the mole's surface, such as the mole starting to ooze, becoming scaly, or starting to bleed.
  • Changes in the appearance of bumps or lumps

If you have any concerns about any area of your skin, you should make an appointment with your physician. Doctors would not just be able to check out the area you are worried about, but they would also be able to inspect any areas that you cannot see yourself. It can be very difficult to tell the difference between a healthy mole and a melanoma, even for physicians. If you have any concerns, you should see your doctor. If doctors are unsure, they will ask a dermatologist to remove the mole and check it out in a biopsy.

* Disclaimer:
This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other health-care professional.