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Is That Just a Mole—or Skin Cancer?

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. Basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma are the most common types of skin cancer. They make up more than 98% of all cases and rarely result in death.

Melanoma is much less common than other types of skin cancer, but is more likely to result in death. Like many cancers, the risk of melanoma increases with age.

Skin cancer of any type occurs more commonly in men than in women, and among individuals who:

  • Have blonde or red hair, light eye color, and fair skin that freckles and sunburns easily
  • Use indoor tanning beds
  • Have a past history of sunburns or skin cancer
  • Have a family history of melanoma

Two additional factors that increase a person’s risk for developing melanoma include having abnormal moles or having more than 100 moles.

When examining your skin, your health care provider follows the ABCDE rule to look for moles and other spots that are different from the rest of the skin:

A = Asymmetry (one half of the mole does not match the other half)

B = Border irregularity (edges of the mole are ragged, notched, or blurred)

C = Color (pigmentation of the mole is not uniform, with varying degrees of tan, brown or black)

D = Diameter of more than 1⁄4 inch (about the size of a pencil eraser)

E = Evolving (the mole is changing over time)

If you’re concerned, have that spot checked.


If you have questions or concerns about your symptoms now, see a Mercyhealth health care provider at Virtual Visit Now.

Mercyhealth Virtual Visit Now gives you remote access to the best of health care from your phone, tablet or computer. Our Virtual Visit Now team can help you feel better from the comfort of your own home. After assessing your symptoms, they’ll recommend treatments that can include simple comfort measures, prescription medicine or an office visit.

Virtual Visit Now is not available for emergency care. If you need emergency care, please call 911.

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