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Learn How to Assess Your Moles with the ABCDE Method

Learn How to Assess Your Moles with the ABCDE Method

Moles are dark, round growths on your skin. Almost everyone has them, and they’re almost always harmless. But sometimes, a mole can evolve and become cancerous.

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States, which means monitoring your moles is an important part of your overall health care. Fortunately, the ABCDE method is a simple and effective way to self-assess your moles for potential signs of skin cancer.

Here are tips for using the ABCDE method from our team at Medical Associates Of North Texas.

What is the ABCDE method for skin cancer?

The ABCDE method is an easy-to-remember guideline to identify suspicious moles. Most moles aren’t cancerous, but this method helps you recognize potential warning signs so you can schedule a professional skin exam.

We recommend doing a self-exam about once a month. Look at your skin and use a mirror for hard-to-reach areas. While you’re doing your exam, follow the ABCDE method:

A - Asymmetry

Noncancerous moles are usually symmetrical, which means that both halves look similar. An asymmetric mole, where one half looks different from the other, could be a cause for concern.

B - Border irregularity

The borders of a benign mole are typically smooth and well-defined. In contrast, suspicious moles may have irregular, notched, or blurred borders.

C - Color

Most moles are one consistent color, ranging from tan to brown. Suspicious moles, on the other hand, can have multiple colors. Make a note of any moles or spots with shades of black, brown, or even red or white.

D - Diameter

Moles that change in size can also be suspicious. Moles larger than a pencil eraser (about 6 mm) may warrant closer inspection.

E - Evolution

The most critical factor when you’re doing skin self-exams is noting changes over time. Any moles that change in size, shape, color, or elevation should be taken seriously.

When to schedule a professional skin check

While self-assessment with the ABCDE method can help you pinpoint changes early, scheduling regular professional skin checks is equally important. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends annual professional skin exams, along with more frequent appointments, if you identify suspicious changes during your self-exams.

Dermatologists are trained to identify early signs of skin cancer that may not be apparent to the untrained eye, and seeking professional care helps you learn the appropriate next steps. 

When you might need a skin biopsy

If you have a suspicious mole, we may recommend a skin biopsy to definitively determine if it’s cancerous. A skin biopsy is a diagnostic procedure where we examine a small sample of skin tissue under a microscope to look for cancerous growth.

You might need a skin biopsy if you have a mole that exhibits concerning characteristics, a fast-growing lesion, or an uncertain diagnosis. Once we do the biopsy, we will inform you of the results and discuss the next steps, which may include mole surgical excision.

Remember, early detection is key to the successful treatment of skin cancer. By following the ABCDE method, you can take proactive steps toward maintaining your skin health. Learn more with an appointment at Medical Associates Of North Texas in Fort Worth. Call our office at 972-433-7178 or send us a message online today.

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