Overview

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Mole and Skin Cancer Exams

The thought of having skin cancer can be scary, as it should be, and may cause one to scrutinize every spot and mark on his or her body. It can be challenging for a patient to identify which moles should be concerning. Rest assured that most moles are not cancerous, but irregularities in size, shape, and color can be signs of trouble in a mole.

For the most part, moles that are small, even and singular in color, perfectly round and unchanging should not be alarming. Normal (or malignant) moles can occur anywhere on the skin, including the scalp, palms, soles, and genitals. Any given person may have only a few or a few hundred moles. It is possible for them to slowly grow over time or even disappear.

When to See a Dermatologist

Someone should see a dermatologist for a mole exam if he/she has multiple moles, those that he/she can’t see and monitor for change, and/or a family or personal history of skin cancer or abnormal moles. Additionally, one should make an urgent appointment if any of their moles exhibit any of the following signs:

  • Asymmetry – A mole has one half that is unlike the other in size, color, or shape.
  • Border Irregularity – The border is irregular or poorly defined. The edge of the mole should be smooth and consistent all the way around and is typically a round shape.
  • Color Irregularity – Each mole should be one color. Varying colors or shades may indicate skin cancer.
  • (large) Diameter – If the diameter is greater than 6mm (or larger than a pencil eraser), it should be checked out.
  • Evolving – Although moles do not all look the same, if one is dramatically different or changes in size, shape or color it can be a concern. Bleeding or itching is another alarm sign.

The Exam

If a mole or skin lesion is in fact skin cancer, early detection can be the key factor to a successful recovery. During the exam the dermatologist will look at the skin and examine growths, moles, dry patches, and discolorations. A dermatoscope may be used to get a clearer look at the skin and magnify it for easier inspection.

If there is concern about skin cancer, the dermatologist will remove a mole, or part of it, after using local anesthesia to numb the area. The sample is sent to a lab for a biopsy so that it may be evaluated under the microscope. The quick procedure is safe with minimal discomfort being felt.

If the biopsy returns with a diagnosis of skin cancer, the dermatologist will determine the proper treatment plan based on the type, stage of cancer, level of aggressiveness, location of the cancer, and patient’s overall health.

For a mole or skin cancer exam by the best in the Atlanta, Georgia area, contact Aesthetic Specialty Centre Plastic Surgery & Dermatology today at (770) 393-9000 in Roswell or (706) 467-6500 in Greensboro.