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How To Identify Suspicious Moles

how to know your body Oct 19, 2017

Almost everyone has a few moles or spots on their skin. The fear that they may be cancerous or otherwise malignant often worries some. Watch this video blog to learn what to look for. The short notes below will help you follow along.


What Are Moles?

Moles are brown or black coloured growths in the skin. Normally an adult will have anywhere from a dozen to 50. Moles are made of a clump of cells called melanocytes; these are your tan producing cells!

How Do I Know If A Mole Is Cancerous?

There are two main things a patient should watch for:

  1. Is the mole changing quickly? If so, see your Doc or Dermatologist.
  2. Know the ABCDE signs
    • A = Asymmetry - if asymmetrical, see Doc.
    • B = Borders - if irregular, see Doc.
    • C = Colour - if strange colour or multi-coloured, see Doc.
    • D = Diameter - if larger than 5mm, the size of a pencil eraser, see Doc.
    • E = Elevation - if significantly elevated, see Doc.

If any skin lesion is changing rapidly or meets more than 1 of the ABCDE criteria, it's time to see your Doctor!

Other Benign Spots To Look For

  • Sebaceous Hyperplasia: these look like flesh-tone moles
  • Skin tags: Tiny skin flaps attached by a stalk, flesh-tone or brown
  • Cherry angiomas: Red mole-like lesions, are simple tangles of capillaries
  • Keratosis pilaris: "chicken skin bumps" on upper arms

Check these also against the ABCDE and change rules above!

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Treatment for benign skin lesions is not required, as they are of no risk to your health. Two main reasons people have them removed are because either the mole is be located in an irritating spot (waistline, bra line) or it is simply cosmetically displeasing.

Options for removal depend on the lesion in question, but typically, they can be surgically excised, frozen off, or lasered off.

Prevention & Check Ups

For those with very freckled or mole-y complexions, dermatologists offer "Mole Mapping" services. Typically, they are for those with over 100 moles and a family or personal history of malignancy. Moles will be charted and followed to ensure nothing is changing. The idea is to catch changes early and have them removed before risk of malignancy becomes a concern.

For most of us, a simple yearly check up during an annual physical exam is enough. All my new patients receive a mole-check as part of their comprehensive physical exam. If you think you could benefit from a top to bottom check up, I'd be delighted to help. Simply call my clinic and we'll get you set up with an appointment.

If you have any questions, comments, or thoughts you'd like to share, please leave them below. I hope this episode was helpful to you or someone you love. If you'd like to share it with someone, please do! I'd be delighted.


Dr. Laura Nurse
Naturopathic Doctor





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