It's well known that excessive time spent in the sun can increase your risk for developing cancerous moles. While most moles are not dangerous, how do you know if you should have a mole checked by a physician?
Doctors say just remember your ABC's.
"'A' means asymmetry. You cut the mole in half, it looks different from one side to another. 'B' is for the borders. We want nice, sharp, well-defined borders. Not borders that have a jag, are spread out, or don't look very nice. 'C' is for the color. We want a nice, uniform color; not a color that changes from dark, to light, to red. Any kind of change in the color," explains Dr. Jennifer Lucas, a dermatologist at the Cleveland Clinic.
In addition, pay attention to the diameter of your moles. The bigger the mole, the more concerning it is.
Moles or blemishes that change or evolve over time may also be problematic.
But Dr. Lucas says it's important to understand that even atypical-looking moles can be harmless.
"We can all have moles that look abnormal or look unusual," says Dr. Lucas. "It does not mean you have melanoma. But you're not going to know that unless you come in to someone who has a trained eye and can tell you [whether or not you should worry]."
If a doctor can't determine if a mole is cancerous just by glance, then a sample of your skin will be taken and examined under a microscope.
And remember - to reduce your risk of developing skin cancer, limit your sun exposure and protect yourself with clothing and broad-spectrum sunscreen.
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