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How to tell when a mole is something more serious

On Behalf of | Apr 20, 2021 | Blog, Medical Malpractice |

It can be difficult to tell whether you have a mole or melanoma. Knowing the differences between the two can be lifesaving for New Jersey residents. What is the best way to distinguish between a mole and a more serious melanoma?

Harmless moles

Sometimes, even experienced dermatologists can mistake melanoma for a harmless mole. This can even lead to a misdiagnosis that may contribute to medical malpractice. Ideally, an attorney well-versed in medical malpractice can assist you in the event of a missed melanoma diagnosis.

Harmless, normal moles are almost always rounded and generally the same color. Though different moles can vary in color, each individual mole will be one consistent color. Sizes can vary from as small as a freckle to about 5 millimeters in diameter. They are usually slightly raised from the normal skin and have smooth borders.

Potentially deadly melanoma

Melanoma is a very aggressive type of skin cancer and looks like benign (harmless) moles. However, there are some key characteristics of melanoma that can help you differentiate it from a normal mole.

First, melanoma is irregularly shaped, and the borders are usually uneven. They will grow bigger and can come in a variety of colors that change with time. You can use the ABCDE Rule to identify most melanomas.

  • A: Asymmetry
  • B: Border
  • C: Color
  • D: Diameter (larger than 6 millimeters)
  • E: Evolving (the mole grows and changes)

Catching melanoma early

Early diagnosis is essential for surviving melanoma, and this begins with examining one’s skin. Individuals with more than 50 normal moles are at an increased risk of developing melanoma.

If you find a mole that is turning darker, lesions under the fingernails or on mucous membranes, a large new spot anywhere on your skin, or strange changes to an existing mole, you should immediately contact your doctor for a diagnosis.

Unlike a lot of cancers, melanoma can be cured if caught early enough. Using sun protection whenever you are outside, performing regular self-checks and visiting a dermatologist regularly are all ways to reduce your chances of getting a late melanoma diagnosis.

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