Lower your cancer concern for moles by following alphabetical clues

It’s not always practical to head to the doctor's office every time a new spot shows up on your skin. But there are ways to help evaluate whether the spot or mole deserves special attention, says Dr. Clay Cockerell, a dermapathologist at UT Southwestern Medical Center whose lab evaluates suspicious skin biopsies.

“If you have concerns, it’s worth having your physician take a look, but there are certain indicators, dubbed the ABCDE’s of skin cancer, that signal the need for closer scrutiny from an expert,” Dr. Cockerell says.

Start by standing in front of a full length mirror and take note of moles that you’ve always had. Then check out blemishes for:

  • Asymmetry – moles that don’t look the same on each side;
  • Borders on moles that are irregular, jagged or blurry;
  • Colors that are inconsistent, such as areas that are darker, multiple colors such as blue, purple, red, or gray or that change appearances;
  • Diameter of moles larger than a quarter inch or the head of an eraser; or
  • Evolving lesions, namely, lesions that are not stable and are changing even if they are small.

“Any of those indicators individually and certainly together warrant a trip to the doctor,” Dr. Cockerell says.

Visit www.utswmedicine.org/conditions-specialties/dermatology to learn more about clinical services in dermatology at UT Southwestern.

June 6 is National Cancer Survivors Day, now in its 23rd year of observance.

Media Contact: Russell Rian

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