How can you tell if a mole is cancerous?


Quick Answer

Moles that have a different appearance when compared to other moles or that first occur after age 30 should be evaluated by a dermatologist. Any moles that change shape, size, height or color or bleed, itch, ooze or are painful or tender should also be evaluated, according to WebMD.

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Full Answer

Most people have moles, and nearly all moles are innocuous. Normal moles are evenly colored black tan or brown and can be raised or flat with an oval or a round shape. Most are less than a quarter-inch across and usually are present at birth or develop by young adulthood, according to the American Cancer Society.

Warning signs of melanoma, which is a serious type of skin cancer, can be remembered with the acronym "ABCDE." The letters in this acronym stand for asymmetry, border, color, diameter and evolving. Normal moles should be asymmetric with both halves of the mole matching one another. The borders of a normal mole should not be ragged, irregular, blurred or notched. The color of the mole should be the same all over; if it is varying shades of black and brown or has patches of blue, white, red or pink, a dermatologist should be seen. The diameter of the mole should not be bigger than a pencil eraser, although some melanomas are smaller than a quarter-inch. Moles that are evolving in color, shape or size need to be checked, according to the ACS.

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