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Everyone has at least one or two moles on their body, but how do you know when a mole is dangerous? We’ve all heard horror stories about strange moles appearing seemingly overnight and proving to be cancerous, so it’s easy to panic whenever you notice a mole that you didn’t notice before.

Fortunately, not every new mole that you haven’t noticed before will lead to melanoma. That doesn’t mean that you still shouldn’t keep an eye out for moles that should be examined.

Regular Screenings
If you notice any new moles on your skin or you have a close relative with a history of melanoma, you should examine yourself once a month. Pay close attention to the areas of your skin that are regularly exposed to the sun, such as your arms, hands, head, and chest. Most of the moles you’ll see will be benign, even the ones that have appeared relatively recently, but some might show signs of being cancerous. If any moles on your body appear suspect, make an appointment with your doctor. Melanoma is fairly easy to treat when it is caught early, but it grows faster than many other cancers and can spread to other parts of your body. 

Signs of Potentially Dangerous Moles
To determine if a mole might be cancerous, look for the following criteria.

  • Asymmetry: The mole is not symmetrical, meaning that one half doesn’t match the other half.
  • Border: The edges of the mole are ragged or otherwise irregular.
  • Color: The mole is more than one color. Look for different shades of brown, red, black, or white.
  • Diameter: The diameter of the mole is larger than that of a pencil eraser.
  • Evolving: The mole appears to be growing, changing color, or changing shape over time.

The best way to remember these criteria is to think “ABCDE.” A for Asymmetry, B for Border, C for Color, D for Diameter, and E for Evolving. 

Simply put, you should always be suspicious of new moles. Most will turn out to be benign, but some might show at least some of these characteristics. If you suspect that you have a cancerous mole, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible.