Worried about that mole? Everyone is at risk of skin cancer and should keep an eye on their skin and moles. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer. If it is detected early, it is more easily treatable. Newton Wellesley Dermatology Associates, which is located in Wellesley Hills, MA, offers skin cancer screening and diagnostic services to their patients. Read on to find out when and how you should check yourself for moles.
What is Skin Cancer?
When cancer starts in the skin, it's called skin cancer. There are three major types of skin cancer: squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma, and melanoma. The main cause of skin cancer is overexposure to Ultraviolet (UV) radiation. This is produced by the sun, but it can also come from other sources, such as indoor tanning beds. Other factors may also contribute to your risk of skin cancer, such as having a medical condition that weakens your immune system or being exposed to toxic substances.
When Should I Look for Moles?
Skin cancer can arise at any age but most commonly occurs after puberty. Although the average age of diagnosis is 52, skin cancer is the second most common cancer in individuals aged 15-29. Making a habit of examining your skin on a regular basis will help detect any abnormal growths. Doctors recommend that you conduct a self-exam every month, looking for any new spots and changes to the existing freckles or moles.
How Do I Check Myself for Moles?
Make sure you check your entire body as skin cancers can occur in parts of the body not exposed to the sun. Use a mirror to check areas that are hard to see. When checking your skin, remember to examine the front and back of your body, then right and left with your arms up. Inspect your neck, back, and arms, and look at the backs of your legs and feet as well as in-between your toes and your soles.
When is a Mole Not Just a Mole?
Most benign moles are often a single shade of brown. Melanoma may become red, white or blue or have a number of shades of brown. Benign skin moles have a smooth and even border unlike cancerous moles. The borders of melanoma tend to be uneven and the edges are scalloped or notched. If you have skin moles that have been with you for decades without change, that's usually a sign that you don't need to worry about them. Additionally, if you have moles that look similar to one another, then they are probably benign.
What is a Skin Cancer Screening?
You should have a skin cancer screening every year. During a skin cancer screening, your dermatologist will inspect your skin, head-to-toe, for any potential warning signs. No blood work is conducted at a skin cancer screening. If your doctor sees a suspicious area, he or she will take a biopsy and send it to a pathologist. The pathologist will use a microscope to examine the skin tissue and determine whether it's cancerous or not. Your doctor will talk to you about the results.
Skin cancer can be serious, expensive, and sometimes even deadly. Take charge of your health today! If you need a mole check, call Newton Wellesley Dermatology Associates at 781-237-3500 now to schedule your annual skin cancer screening in Wellesley Hills, MA. A skin cancer screening could save your life!