Concerning Spots, Lesions, and Moles
Throughout your life, you may develop various spots, lesions, and moles of different sizes and color. These spots can occur on virtually any area of your skin from head to toe, including your genitals. Many lesions are harmless but some may become cancerous. That’s why it’s important to examine your skin on a regular basis and seek medical attention if you notice any change in the appearance of a spot or mole.
A changing or irregular mole may indicate skin cancer. At Vanguard Skin Specialists, our dermatologists will evaluate your moles and determine if they are benign or potentially precancerous or cancerous. Any suspicious lesions will be biopsied for analysis in the lab.
If you have any spots, lesions, or moles that cause you concern, visit Vanguard Skin Specialists for a total body skin exam. Call (719) 355-1585 today for an appointment with one of our dermatologists in Colorado Springs, Pueblo, or Woodland Park, or request one online. Learn more about moles in the FAQs below.
There are many different types of skin cancer, and each presents differently. The most dangerous type of skin cancer is melanoma. You may have heard about the ABCDEs of melanoma, although certain melanomas may not fit those classic signs.
A non-melanoma skin cancer could appear as a spot that is scaly, a lesion that just won’t heal or keeps coming back, or a new lesion.
The only way to get a definitive diagnosis is with a biopsy. If your doctor or medical provider feels the spot is concerning, then he/she may take a sample of skin to be processed and examined by a dermatopathologist. Based on the underlying characteristics of cells we can make a diagnosis.
Over time, moles can undergo changes and turn into a type of skin cancer called malignant melanoma. That’s why you need to examine your skin on a regular basis. Remember ABCDE to know what to look for:
- A - Asymmetry: One half of the abnormal area does not match the other half.
- B - Border: The growth or mole has ill-defined or irregular borders.
- C - Color: The abnormal area or mole contains different colors instead of one solid color; for example, there may be different shades of tan, brown, black, red, blue, or white.
- D - Diameter: The mole or abnormal growth is larger than a pencil eraser. However, some melanomas may be smaller.
- E - Evolving: The mole or abnormal area is growing or changing in appearance.
You should see a dermatologist if you notice a mole that meets any of the ABCDE criteria: asymmetrical, irregular borders, multiple colors, eraser-sized diameter, or changes over time.
Other types of lesions can be precancerous or cancerous, as well. Actinic keratosis is the most common type of precancer. This type of lesion is a dry, scaly, rough-textured growth caused by years of sun exposure. If left untreated, it could turn into a type of skin cancer known as squamous cell carcinoma.
Basal cell carcinoma is another type of cancerous lesion that may have various appearances. Generally speaking, if you have a spot that won’t heal or go away, or goes away only to come back again, you should visit a dermatologist.
If you have never had a total body skin exam or you have a family history of skin cancer, we strongly recommend you see a dermatologist on an annual basis.
Your Vanguard dermatologist, plastic surgeon, or mid-level will biopsy any suspicious-looking moles or lesions to determine if they are precancerous or cancerous. Treatment will depend on biopsy results. If the mole is a skin cancer, then treatment depends on the type of skin cancer. There are also certain atypical moles which may required removal.