Melanoma Awareness, Skin Cancer

Normal Mole or Skin Cancer: How to Tell the Difference

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Team Molemap Creator
Posted 28/09/18

What do normal moles look like? A normal mole takes the appearance of a small brown-coloured spot or growth on the skin. They can be flat or raised and are usually round in shape.

The majority of these moles are caused by sun exposure. These types of normal moles are common on just about everyone, and most make their appearance during the first 25+ years of life.

While it’s true that most moles will never cause any problems, someone with a large number of moles (think: 20 or more) is at higher risk of developing a form of skin cancer like melanoma.

Unsure how to tell the difference between normal and cancerous moles? Here are some tips.

Remember the Warning Signs of Potentially Cancerous Moles

Credit: Adobe Stock

One of the red flags you need to watch out for are irregularly shaped moles. Most normal moles are small, brown, and round. So if you spot a mole that is irregularly shaped and appears to change in size or shape over time, this is an indication that it could be a problem. Your next course of action is to make an appointment with a GP or skin cancer detection centre for a skin check.

Most problem moles are asymmetrical or lopsided whereas normal, non-cancerous moles tend to appear as a perfect circle. And because asymmetry in moles is one of the earliest warning signs of skin cancer, you need to speak to your GP or skin cancer detection service to have it checked out.

Likewise, pay close attention to the diameter of the mole you’re concerned about. A mole that could be an early warning sign of skin cancer will usually be larger than 6 mm in size, or about 1/4 inch. They can be smaller, but they don’t usually stay that way and will grow over time.

Check Your Mole’s Borders and Colours for Signs

You need to pay attention to your mole’s borders, along with its overall colour. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Mole border: Normal or common moles tend to have sharp, well-defined borders. If your mole seems to gradually fade into the surrounding skin, that would fall outside of this description and may need further examination with a GP or skin cancer detection service. The borders of an atypical mole are irregular and/or hazy, qualities that also become more pronounced as time goes on.
  • Mole colour: Most normal moles are not only tan, brown, or the same colour as your flesh, but they are also uniform in appearance. One part of the mole isn’t necessarily lighter or darker than any other. If a mole appears to be multicoloured in that it has areas that are dark brown, blue, black or even red, this is something you should show your GP.

Identify a Cancerous Mole by Its Evolution

Finally, you need to understand that a single examination is not enough to write-off a mole for good.

One of the major indications of cancerous moles has to do with how they evolve. They continue to grow, change shape, change colour, and are generally more pronounced over time. If you have a problem mole that falls into that category, get yourself checked at a GP or skin cancer detection service.

Generally speaking, normal moles are stable — they’ll look the same a year from now that they do today. A mole that gets larger or changes colour or has borders that grow more irregular are all properties that you should keep a close careful watch for.

Spot It to Stop It: Molemap for Early Skin Cancer Detection

Detecting skin cancer early is the key, so it pays to do regular self-checks. If you notice something out of the ordinary, you need to get it looked at.

Since 1997 Molemap by Dermatologists has been a trusted provider of advanced melanoma detection and surveillance services in Australia. Using the most thorough and trusted skin cancer detection technology in the world, our registered nurses who are accredited melanographers provide Spot Checks, Skin Checks, and Full Body Molemaps. Our team of highly trained and independent dermatologists, who work remotely, are experts at diagnosing early stage melanoma.

If you have a mole of concern or you’re worried it might be skin cancer, don’t hesitate to leave us a message, and we will get in touch with you right away.

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