What is a Mole Check?
A mole check is an appointment with a dermatologist that involves checking your moles to ensure that they look healthy. Because moles can turn into melanoma, it is a smart idea to be proactive and keep an eye out for abnormal appearing moles or lesions. Individuals who may be at a higher risk for skin cancer are those with fair skin, who have numerous moles on their body, and who have immediate family members with a risk of atypical moles or skin cancer.
Individuals should also perform self-examinations every month so they are aware of what their moles look like, and can then determine if they have changed at all over time. An easy guide to follow in order to determine if a mole should be looked at is the ABCDEs.
Asymmetry: The halves of the mole do not match.
Border: The edges of the mole are blurred, irregular, or jagged.
Color: The mole has different colors in it, including brown, black, blue, white, red, or tan.
Diameter: The diameter of the mole is larger than an eraser on a pencil (6mm).
Evolution: The mole has changed in size, shape, or color over time.
Who is a Good Candidate for a Mole Check?
Everyone should receive mole checks at least once a year by a medical professional such as a dermatologist. If you notice that a new mole has developed, especially after the age of 30, or if you have a mole that fits the ABCDE criteria or bleeds, oozes, itches, or is painful, you should tell your dermatologist about it. A consultation with one of our dermatologists is needed to best assess your skin.
What to Expect During a Mole Check?
During a mole check, you will undress and will be given a gown to put on. Your dermatologist will then check your skin and examine any moles that you have. A dermatoscope and photography may be used to assess pigmented lesions. Depending on the number of moles present, this mole check should be quite fast. Your dermatologist may decide to perform a biopsy if a suspicious mole is detected to determine if cancer is present or not.
Following a Mole Check
Following your mole check, you should take care to protect your skin from the sun’s UV rays, and avoid tanning beds. This is because UV rays are thought to be the cause of melanoma and other skin cancers. You can do this by wearing sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher every day, and avoid spending time in the sun when it is at its strongest (10 a.m. – 4 p.m.).
If melanoma or another skin cancer is detected during your mole check, your dermatologist will advise you on the next appropriate steps.
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