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Understanding the ABCDE Rule for Suspicious Lesions

You’ve heard about the risk of skin cancer and want to avoid it. You know how essential it is to wear sunscreen when you’re outside. But how well do you know your skin? Have you ever really examined the variations on it? 

Your skin has one thing in common with everyone else’s: moles. What is a mole? Moles are groups of skin cells that have grown together in a batch rather than being spread out on your skin. Your moles are part of your uniqueness as an individual. 

Moles can be black, brown, or tan. When you’re young, they’re usually flat, but as you age, some can become raised, get larger, and appear lighter, while others don’t change at all.  

You may also have freckles, darker spots on your skin because of an excess of melanin, usually because that area of your skin has had a lot of sun exposure. It’s important to take an inventory of moles and freckles so you know how they normally look. This way, you know what to look for if something changes. 

Most moles are completely benign, but sometimes they can become cancerous. If one changes and looks different than it did, or if you have a new mole and it doesn’t look like the others, you should see a doctor right away to rule out cancer. Although not that common, the brown spots from freckles can also turn into skin cancer. 

Our board-certified dermatologists at Seacoast Dermatology check patients for skin cancer daily. Having a complete body check once per year should be an important part of your wellness regimen. Our doctors have a variety of ways to remove moles if they cause discomfort when rubbing against your clothing, if they’re aesthetically displeasing, or if they’re precancerous.  

Following are the ABCDE’s that make it easy to check yourself to see if there are any changes in your moles or to see if any other suspicious lesions have developed. 

A for asymmetry

If your mole doesn’t look the same on both sides, get it checked out. For example, one side is a smooth convex curve while the other side is jagged and enlarged. Normal moles are symmetrical. Many birthmarks are irregularly shaped, but note any change in appearance. 

B for border 

Moles are usually round and harmless. But as we mentioned above, if a mole develops an irregular edge, you should make an appointment with one of our skilled medical staff, led by James G. Dinulos, MD, and Andrew E. Werchniak, MD, to make sure it’s not precancerous. 

C for color 

Your mole may be tan, brown, or black. If it changes in color and becomes darker or lighter, the change needs to be checked out because it could be a precancerous growth. It’s a much easier procedure for you if we eliminate skin cancer at a very early stage. 

D for diameter 

If your mole or lesion is bigger than a quarter inch or the size of an eraser on the head of a pencil, make an appointment so we can examine it. 

E for evolving 

Has your mole grown? Is its surface uneven? Has a dark spot become raised and rough to the touch? Any difference in size or shape should be checked by your provider. 

Call our Dover, New Hampshire, office at 603-431-5205, or use our online booking to schedule your annual checkup or if you find any suspicious lesions on your skin. We also offer teledermatology to care for you via phone or video call.

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