Most of us have been there – you spot a mole that you aren’t sure is old or new or changed and you immediately panic and think of the dreaded C word. Well, I’m here today to give you a few pointers on what you should look for in a mole that might make you consider seeking a medical professionals advice.
The Age Rule.
While malignancies affect ALL ages, it is important for those of you that are more mature to be aware of this rule. Most ‘new’ moles form in the first three decades of your life (up until around the age of 30) so any ‘new’ moles that form after this period should be closely monitored (using the ABCDE rule or the CUBED formula below).
The ABCDE rule.
As health care professionals we are taught to look out for the ABCDEs listed below. But there’s no reason why you can’t keep an eye out for them yourselves – the more awareness people have of these lesions, the less likely they are to go unnoticed.
A: for Asymmetry (i.e., not the same on each side if you draw a line down the middle of the mole).
B: for Borders (are there clearly defined borders on the mole (normal) or does it seem to fade out into the skin (abnormal)?).
C: for Colours (is the mole the same colour all the way through or are there a few colours? The rule of thumb is 3 colours or more = seek advice. Have these colours changed at all?)
D: for Diameter (if the mole is the size of a pencil eraser, about 6mm, or more – keep a close eye) or Dark (if the mole either becomes darker or is darker in colour than other moles on your body (abnormal)). It is very important to note that not all mole lesions are dark and if you have a skin lesion that meets some of the other ABCDE rules than you should seek advice.
E: is for Evolution (is the mole growing, spreading, changing colour – seek advice).
The CUBED formula.
Another Podiatrist, a man named Ivan Bristow, along with a few of his colleagues, created a formula for health care professionals which I believe is really important to make known. It is called the CUBED formula. It is a series of signs to look out for in conjunction with the ABCDE rule and the rule is that if two or more are present then you should seek advice.
C: for Coloured marks (the multiple colours that I mentioned above).
U: for Uncertain diagnosis (is it a mole, a cut, a bruise?).
B: for Bleeding, oozing or hypergranulation (pink shiny flesh poking out of the skin) (these are not normal for a mole and you should seek advice).
E: for Enlargement (if the mole gets bigger, similar to Evolution above).
D: for Delay in healing (if you notice a lesion that is not healing for more than two months).
Examine the lesion.
Look, measure, photograph, describe it for yourself. If you think it meets the criteria in the ABCDE rules or the CUBED formula, then you might consider seeking a medical opinion. When something doesn’t feel right, it’s usually because it isn’t and you’re better safe than sorry.
This article was intended as an information piece and should not be taken as medical advice. If you or someone you know suspects that they have a malignant lesion, you should consult your doctor as soon as possible.