If you have multiple moles on your body, you may be unable to tell which ones are harmless and which ones could be in the early stages of melanoma. While you are performing a monthly self-examination of your skin, there are a couple of different methods you can use to help determine whether a mole could be melanoma and should be looked at by a dermatologist.
1. Compare the Mole to Other Ones on the Surrounding Skin
One way that you can try to determine whether a mole may be melanoma is to compare any unusual ones to other moles located on the skin surrounding the suspect one. Known as the ugly duckling, a mole that is not similar to any other moles nearby, it may be cause for alarm.
Normally, the pigmentation, size, and shape of the moles on a particular area of your body will be about the same. When one looks different from the others, it is most likely not growing from the normal cells in your skin.
Unfortunately, a mole that is an ugly duckling can be a cause for alarm. It can mean that aggressive melanoma cells are growing on your skin that need to be checked out and biopsied by a physician.
2. Look for the Development of Irregularities of the Mole Itself
If you do not have many moles on your body or have an isolated one, another method you can use to identify a possible cancerous growth is to check for irregularities in the mole itself. Normally, a mole will have a uniform color, have clearly defined borders, and will be symmetrical on either side of it.
However, if the mole has darker patches, appears to be growing outward on one side, or has jagged or blurred edges, these are signs that the mole has malignant cells growing. You will need to have a dermatologist biopsy the area to verify that this is the case so that treatment can begin if melanoma is found.
Whichever method that you use to check your moles while performing a skin self-examination, you should make note of any suspicious-looking ones so that you can have them checked out. If you do find any concerning moles, make an appointment with a dermatology clinic near you to have a doctor examine and possibly biopsy the area to make sure that it does not contain melanoma cells or signs of skin cancer.