When caught early, melanoma is nearly 100 percent treatable. That’s why it’s important to keep a close eye on any moles that may potentially be cancerous. Of course, regular dermatological visits are recommended, especially for those with lots of moles. In between visits, however, creating a “map” of the moles on your body is a great way to stay on top of any changes that might be happening.
1. Know What to Look For
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that you check for the “ABCDEs” of melanoma. You’ll want to note any asymmetry, irregular borders, varied colors, large diameters and evolving/changing moles. While these characteristics on their own may not be abnormal, it’s important to keep an eye on them so that you can recognize any changes to point out to your dermatologist.
2. Be Systematic
This is especially important if you have many moles on your body. When you check for moles, take the same meticulous steps each time. Stand in front of a mirror and examine the front, back and sides of your body. Then, examine each arm and hand, then each leg and foot. Finally, use a hand mirror to check the back of your neck and scalp.
3. Record Your Moles
Once you’ve thoroughly checked your body for moles, the most important step is to record them. The camera on your phone can be very useful for this purpose, and there also some smartphone apps (such as UMSkinCheck) that can help track moles. This will help you to notice any changes in the ABCDEs mentioned above, which may indicate a problematic mole. Further, your mole map can be very useful to bring to your next dermatologist visit to help outline where you think there may be cause for concern.