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The ABCDE Signs of Skin Cancer: "B" Is for Border Irregularity

What Is a Border Irregularity?

Being aware of the moles you have on your body and what they look like is a crucial part of skin cancer prevention. Although melanoma is a potentially life-threatening disease, it is often curable if it is caught early enough. However, this means that you need to learn the difference between a noncancerous mole and a potentially dangerous one.
One of the signs of skin cancer is border irregularity, which means the outside edge of the mole is irregular, ragged, notched, or blurred. On the other hand, a normal mole will have an outward edge that is well defined and sharp. Skin cancer develops when DNA damage occurs in skin cells, such as by UV radiation. This triggers mutations that cause the skin cells to multiply rapidly and form malignant tumors.
These tumors originate in the melanocytes in the skin. Skin cancer can be new spots or may develop in moles that were originally "normal." As these cancerous cells rapidly form, the border of the mole becomes irregular, hazy, or undefined. This border irregularity is an indication that there may be uncontrolled, localized growth -- a red flag for skin cancer.

Where Should I Look for Skin Cancer?

Although skin cancer can occur anywhere on the body, there are certain locations where it is more likely to start. For men, the chest and back are usually the most common sites to develop skin cancer. For women, the legs tend to be the most common site. Other common places for both men and women are the neck and face -- areas that typically receive more sun exposure.
It is usually recommended to do self-exams once a month to check for any irregularity in your moles. By doing this on a monthly basis, you will become familiar with where your moles are, whether they have changed, or whether you have developed new moles.

Early Detection Is the Best Skin Cancer Treatment

Finding skin cancer as soon as possible is the most effective treatment for this potentially life-threatening condition. If left untreated, melanoma can grow into the skin, reaching the blood vessels and lymphatics, and spread to other organs in the body. Once this occurs, it can be quite difficult to treat the cancer, and it could be fatal.
Treating skin cancer early, when it is only located near the surface of the skin, can prevent it from spreading. Catching this disease early means that your chances of recovery are considerably high. If you notice any of your moles have an irregular border, let your dermatologist or healthcare provider know right away. Don't put it off thinking that you can do it at your next checkup. It's never too early to catch skin cancer!
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