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The ABCDE Signs of Skin Cancer: "D" Is for Diameter

I Have a Big Mole -- Does That Mean It's Cancer?

Just because a mole is big, doesn't necessarily mean it's melanoma. There are numerous factors your healthcare provider will take into account to determine whether your mole is cancerous. For example, how long have you had the mole? If you have had it since you were a child, then that can be a good sign, as new moles are more likely to be suspicious.
 
Other factors include its symmetry, color, and borders. Normal moles tend to be symmetrical, meaning if you drew a line down the center, both sides would look alike. Melanomas are usually asymmetrical. Also, normal moles tend to be one, even color (usually brown) and have sharp borders. Melanomas, on the other hand, can contain a mixture of colors and the borders are usually diminished or jagged.
 

What Happens Next?

The only way to know for certain if your mole is melanoma is to have part of the tissue removed and checked for cancer cells. If your healthcare provider has reason enough to believe that your spot needs to be checked, he or she will remove all or part of the skin that looks abnormal. This sample is then sent to a laboratory where the tissue is examined under a microscope to check for melanoma.
 
If it is melanoma, the first step in treatment is removing it. This is usually done by surgical excision (cutting it out), also sometimes called resection. In many cases, this surgery can be performed in the healthcare provider's office or as an outpatient procedure. Stitches are kept in place for one to two weeks. Scars are usually small and diminish over time.
 
Again, catching signs of skin cancer early is key to preventing the disease from spreading to other areas of the body. If you find anything that concerns you, check with your healthcare provider right away.
 
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