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Check For Cancerous Moles

The vast majority of moles are totally harmless and although their appearance may annoy you, generally they will cause you no problems and can on occasion, disappear of their own free will. They are, however, a potential risk and must be monitored, especially if they are exposed to sunlight for extended periods.

If you wish to remove any of your moles for personal reasons, there are many ways to do it including, conventional surgery, laser surgery, cryogenics (freezing) and even mole removal creams that can be used at home.

Early Signs of Cancerous Moles

One way of remembering what to look out for when checking your moles is to use the ABCDE mnemonic.

A = Asymmetry where each half of the mole is not symmetrical.
B = Border irregularities, where the edges of the mole are blurred or fuzzy.
C = Color of the mole. It has a range of shades from pink, brown to black.
D = Diameter of the mole is greater than 6mm (size of a pencil eraser).
E = Enlarging of the mole, where it grows over time.

Note: The 6mm guide is not cast iron and some smaller moles can become malignant.

By watching for any of the above signs you should be reasonably assured that they are not becoming malignant. If you do observe any of the indications, it is vitally important to visit your doctor or dermatologist, for assessment and diagnosis.

If the specialist is at all concerned, it is likely they will recommend surgical removal of the mole in question. Generally no other form of removal is appropriate in these cases. During the procedure the complete mole will be excised to ensure all potentially cancerous tissue is removed and a sample will be sent for analysis.

Follow up treatment may then be offered if the biopsy result proves positive, to stop the potential spread of cancer cells into the surrounding areas. With malignant melanoma, cancer cells can travel very quickly through your bloodstream to create secondary cancers almost anywhere within your body and for this reason, early detection and removal may make the difference between life and death.

If you have medical insurance it may well cover the cost of mole removal in cases where melanoma is suspected, but cosmetic removal is not generally covered.

Malignant melanoma is not restricted to moles and may develop anywhere on the skin, especially following overexposure to the sun. For this reason it is important to sunbathe sensibly, avoid mid-day bathing when the sun is at its hottest, always use a high factor sun screen and re-apply at regular intervals (not just after swimming).