Skin Cancer, Melanoma Awareness

Knowing when a mole is skin cancer

How to screen your moles for signs of skin cancer

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Team MoleMap Creator
Posted 24/01/13

Doctors always recommend professional screenings for cancerous moles. It is certainly a good idea for you to perform DIY screenings as well. The important thing is to report a suspicious mole so that it can be diagnosed as soon as possible. If you happen to haveskin cancer, the timelier the treatment is the higher the chances for curing the condition are.

Cancerous Moles: Diagnosis 

The first job of the doctor is to inspect the suspicious mole along with all other ones on your body. This preliminary screening is necessary to identify all potentially dangerous growths. The dermatologist will use the established criteria for pinpointing moles that may lead to skin cancer. These skin growths are typically characterized by asymmetry, irregular borders, uneven colour, diameter of more then 6 millimetres and noticeable changes in their size, structure and colour. An experienced specialist will recognize dangerous growths even if they do not meet these criteria fully. Skin biopsy is the only diagnosis procedure which can confirm the presence of skin cancer. It involves the removal of a sample of the mole's tissue which is then transferred to a laboratory where a pathologist examines it under a microscope. Skin biopsy is an invasive procedure and it is done under local anaesthesia. The doctor will also examine the lymph nodes to see whether they are swollen and whether they show signs of cancer. A blood test may be done as well. If the patient is diagnosed with skin cancer, the doctor will carry out further tests to check whether it has spread to other systems and organs and determine its stage.

Cancerous Moles: Early Detection

There are effective ways to prevent the growth of cancerous moles. These do not appear all of a sudden. Before a mole becomes cancerous, it is dysplastic first. A dermatologist should be able to identify dysplastic skin growths during screening and monitor them over time. The reality is that most of these growths never become cancer. However, if one begins to turn into a cancerous growth, the dermatologist will identify it timely and carry out the required treatment to prevent cancer effectively. It is important to be aware of your individual melanoma risk. It is higher for people with a lot of moles, for those exposed to ultraviolet radiation frequently and for those with family history of the condition. Those individuals should have screenings for cancerous moles more often than others. In some cases, dermatologists can recommend skin exams every six and even every four months.

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