It is not uncommon to have pigmented spots or moles on the skin. However, changes in pigmentation should occur gradually. Sudden changes are dangerous signs to look out for because they may indicate skin cancer. The specialists at Northstar Dermatology provide early diagnoses of Fort Worth moles, to help detect those that are malignant in good time.
What is the appearance of normal moles?
Most moles appear early during life and not during your later years. Normal-sized moles are about a quarter of an inch and can be flat or raised, and round or oval.
What approach should you take when self-diagnosing your moles?
- Is your mole symmetrical or asymmetrical?
Take a straight line through the middle of your mole. Observe the two halves. If the halves look symmetrical, there is nothing to fear. However, suppose the two halves look different, meaning they are asymmetrical. In that case, it could be a sign that you should visit your dermatologist immediately to get a thorough assessment and a more accurate diagnosis. Although this method is simple, all moles are different. Sometimes the two halves being asymmetrical is not necessarily a sign of malignant melanoma; however, it is safer to seek a professional diagnosis.
- What do the borders look like?
A perfectly normal mole is one with regular and defined borders. If you notice that your moles have rugged or poorly defined boundaries, contact your doctor because it might signify skin cancer.
- Take note of the color
Although mole pigmentation varies depending on various factors, like the patient’s skin color, you should be keen on identifying brown or black moles. Specifically, watch out for moles that darken over time.
If your moles are more prominent, about 6 mm in diameter, it might be a symptom of melanoma. Pay closer attention to moles that increase in size, even the smaller ones.
Moles that itch or bleed are common signs of benign melanomas.
Medical tests for melanoma skin cancer diagnosis
Most dermatologists confirm the presence of malignancy on the skin after a patient shares concerns about their moles. However, additional tests are necessary to determine if it is melanoma or another type of skin cancer.
The first step during a medical diagnosis is to review a patient’s medical history and perform a thorough physical examination of the moles. A doctor may also perform:
- Skin biopsy: This procedure involves taking a piece of the suspected mole and sending the sample to a pathologist who will check for melanoma cells in a laboratory under a microscope. Skin biopsies are of different types:
- Tangential biopsy: A doctor will shave off the top layer of the suspected spot using a surgical blade.
- Punch biopsy: Your doctor will remove samples using a rotating tool that cuts deep into the skin.
- Optical biopsy: This technique does not require the removal of a skin sample.
Patients that start treatment early have higher chances of getting better. Visit the offices of Northstar Dermatology to get checked by an experienced dermatologist and receive an accurate diagnosis of suspected malignant moles on your skin.