A skin exam by a dermatologist is done if you have:
- Suspicious moles or skin lesions.
- Symptoms of early skin cancer.
- A history of previous skin cancer.
- 50 or more moles.
- Atypical moles (dysplastic nevi).
- A family history of skin cancer.
Moles and other birthmarks are benign pigmented spots or patches of skin that range in color from tan, brown and black (moles) to red, pink or purple (vascular lesions, such as strawberry hemangiomas or port wine stains). Though most moles are harmless, they may develop into cancer.
Signs of melanoma
The ABCDE rule of detection means watching for:
If you draws line through this mole, the two halves will not match, meaning it is asymmetrical, a warning sign for melanoma. Border The borders of an early melanoma tend to be uneven. The edges may be scalloped or notched.
Having a variety of colors is another warning signal. A number of different shades of brown, tan or black could appear. A melanoma may also become red, venue or blue.
Melanomas usually are larger in diameter than the size of the eraser on your pencil (114 inch or 6 mm), but they may sometimes be smaller when first detected.
When a mole is evolving, see a doctor. Any change — in size, shape, color, elevation, or another trait, or any new symptom such as bleeding, itching or crusting — points to danger.
A Skin Self-Exam
Between visits to your dermatologist, you should perform skin self-exam at home. Everyone, not only those with an increased risk of developing skin cancer, should perform regular skin self-exams. Examining your skin for suspicious moles and other lesions could save your life. No one is immune to skin cancer.
How to Perform a Skin Self-Exam
The Body Mole Map is a great illustrated guide that shows how to examine your skin.
It is important for you to examine your entire body as skin cancer can occur anywhere, not only on areas frequently exposed to the sun. Be sure to check your back, scalp, underarms, genitals, palms, soles, and skin between the toes and fingers. You should be familiar with your birthmarks, blemishes, and moles so you know what they look like and can spot changes. As you examine your skin, look for changes in the size, color, shape, or texture of a mark on your skin.
Signs of skin cancer include:
- Mole that is different from the rest, itches, bleeds, or is changing in any way — even if the mole is smaller than 6
- millimeters (about the size of a pencil eraser)
- Sore that never fully heals
- Translucent growth with rolled edges
- Brown or black streak underneath a nail
- Cluster of slow-growing, shiny pink or red lesions
- Waxy-feeling scar
- Flat or slightly depressed lesion that feels hard to the touch
If You Find a Suspicious Lesion
If you find a suspicious lesion, please call us to schedule an appointment so Dr. Popkin can properly evaluate it.
When making the appointment, be sure that the person making the appointment knows why you want to see the doctor. Skin cancer has a high cure rate when detected early.