Melanomas aren’t the most common form of skin cancer, but they are one of the most serious. If discovered early, they can be easily treated. Unchecked, however, they can be fatal. Melanomas often resemble moles, or develop from moles, but they can also appear skin-colored or even white or blue. Dr. Burgess provides comprehensive skin cancer screenings, and if an atypical mole is detected during a screening, she’ll sometimes perform a biopsy, or remove the atypical mole in the office.
Common Questions about Moles And Melanoma Services
How often should I get my moles screened?
I recommend a complete body check at least once per year. If you notice a change in one of your moles or are concerned about a new mole, do not hesitate to make an appointment at your earliest convenience so we can check it out.
What are some warning signs of melanoma?
Look for the ABCDs of melanoma.
A: Asymmetry—one half of the mole does not equal the other in shape, color, or size.
B: Border irregularity—edges are jagged, fuzzy, or ragged.
C: Color irregularity—pigment is not uniform, so there are dark and light colors within the same mole.
D: Diameter—if the diameter is greater than 6mm, that’s a tell-tale sign.
Coupled with a yearly skin examination, these warning signs can help you detect melanoma early, allowing you to begin treatment right away.
How can I better protect myself from melanoma?
In addition to regular checks, protect yourself from sun exposure—especially intense exposure over a short period of time. People with a history of more than three blistering sunburns are at an increased risk for skin cancer. Certain forms of melanoma can also run in families, so if you have a family history of melanoma, it’s better to follow up more closely than once a year, maybe even every three to six months.
The biggest thing is to keep an eye out for new or changing moles. Fifty percent of melanomas arise as a new mole.
Are moles supposed to itch, bleed or hurt?
Moles are not supposed to itch bleed or hurt. If you experience any of these symptoms, it may be a sign that it is cancerous (melanoma) or pre-cancerous (atypical mole). The mole should be examined and possibly sampled or biopsied to make sure that it is normal or benign.