Updated: Mar 10
Moles on the skin are not unusual, and while the presence of moles tends not to top anyone's list of worrisome health conditions, it should. Skin cancer rates are soaring, and if you’re an American, there’s a significant chance you’ll be diagnosed with it in your lifetime. In fact, it’s the most common cancer in the United States by far. The good news is that most skin cancer is curable when it’s caught early enough, but for patients who wait too long, it may be too late. Here’s what to do if you have a suspicious mole.
Signs of a Mole Gone Bad
According to Skinsite, most moles are benign, but these signs can signal a dangerous type of skin cancer called melanoma. Call your doctor if a mole:
Has a ragged border
Is more than one color
Has a diameter larger than a quarter-inch
Has changed in size, shape or color over time
Appeared after the age of 20
Is painful or itchy
Bleeds when touched
What Kind of Doctor Should You See?
If you have a suspicious mole, see a dermatologist as soon as possible. Dermatologists are skin specialists, and they have the training and tools to diagnose and treat suspicious lesions quickly, according to Center for Surgical Dermatology and Dermatology Associates. If the wait for an appointment is long, however, have the mole evaluated by your general practitioner. If another doctor believes there’s a high risk your mole is cancerous, a referral can speed up the appointment process, ensuring that you receive prompt care.
Don't Wait, or Else it Could Be Too Late
There are many reasons why someone may defer treatment for a condition they know could be serious. According to Carenet, 81 percent of patients don't like going to the doctor, which often drives them to avoid healthcare altogether, including critical preventive care.
Skin cancer is curable, but the odds of a meaningful and lasting recovery depend on early treatment. If you have a suspicious mole, have it evaluated as soon as possible. When caught early, some treatment options have a 98% chance of successfully removing the cancer. If you’re male, light-skinned or have a family history of skin cancer, establishing a relationship with a dermatologist sooner rather than later ensures care is available when necessary. Your doctor can also monitor your skin for changes that could be of concern.
Some types of skin cancer can spread to your vital organs, so catching it early is essential. Check your skin monthly and take measures to protect it by avoiding ultraviolet light, but if you have a suspicious mole, don’t delay—make an appointment now.
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