Keep an Eye on Your Moles

Wondering if your changing mole could be a sign of skin cancer?

Skin cancer doesn’t just happen to those who’ve had bad sunburns in the past and those who are fair-skinned. While these are certainly risk factors that can increase your chances of developing skin cancer, the truth is that anyone can develop skin cancer during their lifetime. Of course, our Encinitas, CA, dermatologists Dr. David Thomas, Dr. Margaret Hobson Dupree and Dr. Erin Storie want to arm patients with the knowledge they need to recognize the early signs of cancerous moles.

What are the different types of skin cancer?

While we certainly want you to know how to spot those early warning signs of melanoma, as this is the most dangerous form of skin cancer, we also want you to be able to spot signs of squamous cell and basal cell carcinomas.

These are the two most common types of non-melanoma skin cancer, and while not life-threatening they can still grow deep within tissue causing serious and widespread damage. This is why it’s important to see one of our Encinitas, CA, dermatologists if you notice changes in your moles, no matter how minor.  

What are the warning signs of skin cancer?

Let’s break it down into melanoma, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Here are the warning signs,

Melanoma: Knowing your ABCDEs will be incredibly helpful here. When looking at a mole, the warning signs of melanoma are,

  • A: asymmetry of the mole (when one half isn’t symmetrical to the other half)
  • B: a poorly defined border or a ragged border
  • C: Multiple colors or a mole that changes colors
  • D: moles that are larger than 6mm in diameter, or larger than the size of a pencil eraser
  • E: any mole that evolves or changes shape, texture, color or size over time (healthy moles will stay relatively the same over the years)

Basal cell carcinoma (BCCs): BCCs often develop on areas of the body that are exposed to the sun such as the face, neck and head. Signs of BCCs include,

  • A scar-like spot that may be yellow or pale in appearance
  • A raised red patch that may also itch
  • Pearly, skin-colored bumps
  • Sores that crust or ooze and don’t heal or keep coming back

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCCs): Like BCCs, SCCs are also more likely to develop on sun-exposed areas of the body. Signs of SCCs include,

  • Rough patches of red skin that may bleed or crust over easily
  • Raised bumps or lumps with a depressed center
  • Growths that may look more like warts (raised, skin-colored growths)
  • Sores that crust or ooze and don’t heal or often come back

Are you concerned about suspicious or changing moles? If so, our Encinitas, CA, team of dermatologists are dedicated to providing you with screenings and comprehensive evaluations to be able to spot skin cancer right away. To schedule a skin cancer screening, call North County Dermatology Center today at (760) 230-2805.

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