Self-Check: Moles

It’s summertime, and you don’t need a reminder to wear sunscreen and a hat, right?

In spite of knowing what to do now, many of us weren’t as diligent with the sunscreen when we were kids. Raise your hand if you can remember getting at least one serious burn in your lifetime. (My hand is up. Both hands, actually.)

More than one million skin cancers are diagnosed in the United States each year. The American Cancer Society provides a very comprehensive explanation of skin cancer on their website. But in the event that you don’t click through to their site, here are the ABCDs of melanoma:

  • A is for Asymmetry: One half of a mole or birthmark does not match the other.
  • B is for Border: The edges are irregular, ragged, notched, or blurred.
  • C is for Color: The color is not the same all over and may include shades of brown or black, or sometimes with patches of pink, red, white, or blue.
  • D is for Diameter: The spot is larger than 6 millimeters across (about ¼ inch — the size of a pencil eraser), although melanomas can sometimes be smaller than this.

If any mole looks suspicious, make an appointment with your family doctor or dermatologist for a professional opinion. If you’re freckled, like me, or have had at least one severe sunburn in your lifetime, it’s recommended that you see your doctor for a professional skin exam each year.

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