As dermatologists, we are highly concerned about the health of your skin, and recommend regular, rigorous monitoring of all moles on the body for skin cancer. This monitoring should include professional skin cancer screenings by a Board Certified Dermatologist and routine self-examinations in between professional ones. The most common warning sign of skin cancer is a visible change on the skin, like a new growth, or a change in an existing lesion or mole. Basal cell carcinoma may appear as a small, smooth, pearly or waxy bump on the face, ears, or neck; or, as a flat, pink/red or brown-colored lesion on the trunk or arms and legs. Squamous cell carcinoma may appear as a firm, red nodule; or as a rough, scaly flat lesion that may itch, bleed, and become crusty. Both basal cell and squamous cell cancers mainly occur on areas of the skin frequently exposed to the sun, but they can occur anywhere, so the entire body must be regularly screened. Basal cell and squamous cell cancers are the less serious types and make up 95% of all skin cancers. Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer and is the main reason why skin must be so carefully monitored.
When examining moles (all over the skin, including between the fingers and toes and on the back) look for:
A. Asymmetry—one half does not match the other
B. Border—edges are ragged or blurred
C. Color—uneven shades of brown, black, tan, red, white or blue
D. Diameter—a change in size (usually greater than 6mm, about the size of a pencil’s eraser)
If a lesion on your skin has changed visibly or meets any of these criteria, it must be checked by your dermatologist.
As for removal of moles for cosmetic reasons, there are several methods available, including chemical treatment and excision. A consultation with the dermatologist will determine what method is appropriate for you.