It is important to watch your moles for change, because change is often the first detectable sign of cancer. If a melanoma is caught early it is usually curable. If detected late it can be fatal.

The changes to look for are:

1) A new mole: especially one that is dark or multi-colored or has irregular borders. A useful clue is the “ugly duckling sign” meaning a mole that stands out and looks different from the others.

2) An existing mole changing in color, size or shape.

a) color: if a mole  gets darker or develops a dark spot in it or at the edge. Shades of black, blue and purple are particularly worrisome.

b) size: if a mole  gets  larger, especially with irregular borders.

c) shape: look for asymmetry: not perfectly round.

3) Pain, Itching , burning, stinging and bleeding can also indicate skin cancer.

We know that the patient or the spouse detects 80% of skin cancers. For that reason it is important to do self exams at least yearly, and more often if you have had skin cancer or are at high risk for developing one. Remember, on your birthday check your birthday suit!

You will always see a doctor.

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