7 Ways to Tell If a Mole Is Cancerous

Jacqueline Ho | June 19, 2014

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As a preventive measure against developing melanoma—the deadliest form of skin cancer—you should pay close attention to your skin. In particular, if you have a mole—or something on your skin that may resemble a mole—you should  make note of the following characteristics. If you notice any changes, be sure to report them to your doctor.

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The sun can make moles darker, but a drastic change in color may be a reason for concern. You should also take notice if a mole is inconsistent in color, such as black in the middle with pink around the outside.

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Moles are usually symmetrical so if you notice any kind of changes—such as growth in size or if it becomes asymmetrical—you should talk to your doctor.

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Moles are usually either circular or ovular. Cancerous moles tend to have irregular borders and a relatively ragged shape.

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Pain level

Moles typically don’t result in any pain. One sign of melanoma, however, is a mole that is bleeding, oozing, itching or tender to the touch.

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Stage of development

Moles can develop at any age and the appearance of a new one isn’t always reason to worry. But pay attention to any new spots on your skin and check with your dermatologist if a new spot doesn’t fit the mole guidelines.

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Healing ability

If you have a sore on your skin that won’t heal, even after cleaning and treating it, you should talk to your doctor. Sores that don’t heal may be a sign of cancer or a sign that you’re at high risk of cancer.

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Moles usually feel smooth in texture. If your mole turns rough, scaly, crusty or develops a scab, it may potentially be cancerous, and you should talk with your doctor as soon as possible.