It is first important to recognize that most moles are not cancerous. By conducting a skin self-exam once a month, you will become familiar with your individual pattern of moles, blemishes, freckles and other marks on your skin. By becoming familiar with your body, you will be able to quickly recognize any new moles or changes in existing moles.

Healthy moles may be flat or raised, are generally small, and do not pose issues such as itching or irritation. The best way to know what is a ‘normal’ mole is to know what an irregular mole looks like.

Types of skin cancer irregularities that are common symptoms of melanoma are listed in the skin cancer alphabet below. If you have any of these, have your skin checked by your doctor or dermatologist.

  • A – Asymmetrical, meaning one half of the growth looks different than the other half
  • B – Borders that are irregular
  • C – Color changes or is more than one color
  • D – Diameter is greater than the size of a pencil eraser
  • E – Evolving; meaning that a growth changes in size, shape, symptoms like itching or tenderness, surface (like bleeding), or shades of color.

Skin cancers are known to disguise themselves and may look like a thick or jagged scar, a smooth bump, a firm red lump, a dark, shiny bump, a dark patch on your palm or the bottom of your foot or a dark band under your nail.

A common sign that you may have a concerning mole is if it looks different from all the rest.

Knowing where your normal moles are located on your body, what they look like and their size is crucial in self-screening for skin cancer. Nearly all skin cancers can be treated effectively if they are found early, so it is important to know what to look for and properly document the ‘normal’ moles.

If you have questions or concerns about a mole or your skin, click here to make an appointment with a skilled primary care physician at The Medical Center of Aurora.

To see examples of normal moles versus melanoma moles, visit the American Cancer Society’s Skin Cancer Image Gallery.

The Medical Center of Aurora's Cancer Care physicians can help rule out skin cancer. Click here to learn more or to make an appointment.