Skin cancer represents one of the most common cancers seen in America today. The term skin cancer is used to describe the three top varieties that tend to occur. These include squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Although melanoma is the rarest of the three, this type of skin cancer is responsible for one American death every hour. As alarming as the numbers are, there are also many, many people who, with early detection and treatment, recover from skin cancer. Here, we discuss how you can spot the signs that you should have your dermatologist check out a changing mole.
A mole in and of itself is not indicative of skin cancer. This type of skin growth occurs when cells, often melanocytes, grow in a cluster. Most moles develop by age 20. It is not uncommon for a person to have up to 40 benign moles on various parts of the body. In most cases, a mole is not cause for concern. However, it is important to know every mole on the body so changes to any one of them can be spotted.
One of the best ways to monitor moles over time is to schedule annual dermatologic screenings. During these visits, a dermatologist may use a special instrument called a dermatoscope, which shines bright light onto the skin and magnifies the visual field for better viewing of the finite details in a mole.
While a benign mole may change over time, becoming raised or flattening out or growing a random hair, not all changing moles are cancerous. Only your dermatologist can tell. Changes that should be evaluated include those associated with the border of a mole, the color, shape, or size. Often, the dermatologist can determine if a mole is suspicious based on its characteristics alone. Sometimes, a biopsy is necessary. This quick test removes a small amount of skin cells from the mole for closer observation in a medical laboratory.
Regardless of whether or not you currently have a changing or odd-looking mole, now is a great time to schedule your skin cancer screening. At Advanced Laser and Skin Cancer Center, it is our mission to provide the best possible skin cancer care through early diagnosis, advanced prevention methods, proven skin cancer treatments, and cutting-edge technology in a professional, compassionate atmosphere. Call 201.836.9696 to schedule your visit today.