Cancerous Mole vs. Benign Mole

Reviewed on 4/30/2021

Differences between cancerous mole and benign Mole

To differentiate a benign mole from a cancerous mole, you should look out for the following signs.
To differentiate a benign mole from a cancerous mole, you should look out for the following 9 signs.

To differentiate a benign mole from a cancerous mole, you should look out for the following signs.

  • Asymmetry

If you closely observe a cancerous mole, you will notice that it does not have a symmetrical border. If you draw an imaginary line through the middle of the lesion, the two halves appear different. It looks different from round to oval and symmetrical common mole.

  • Border

A cancerous mole doesn’t have a smooth or even border compared to a common mole. A mole that tends to have scalloped or notched edges need to be distinguished as cancerous.

  • Color

A cancerous mole may have different shades: black, brown, or tan. As it grows, the colors may change to red, white, or blue. A mole of several shades or that has faded or darkened should be checked by a doctor. On the contrary, a benign mole will have a single brown shade.

  • Diameter or dark

If you notice any mole larger than a pencil eraser or darker than other moles, it could be cancerous.

  • Evolving

A mole that is evolving, i.e., shrinking, growing larger and changing color, should be checked by a doctor. Besides, bleeding, itching, or crusting of the mole may indicate a cancerous mole. A cancerous mole may often grow in size or change in height rapidly.

  • Pain, bleeding, or itching

If you notice pain, itching, bleeding and ulceration that doesn’t resolve in a week, see a doctor.

  • Texture

Assess the mole for any broken, jabbed, scaly, or scraped surface. Also, monitor if your mole is

If yes, it could indicate a cancerous growth.

  • Ugly duckling

Check out for any mole that is distinct from other moles on the body. Any mole that stands out from the rest is an ugly duckling and should be examined further. Perhaps the ugly duckling may be bigger or smaller than the rest.

  • Slow in healing

A healthy mole should heal quickly; if it doesn’t heal within three weeks, it could indicate skin cancer. The skin sore that heals and then comes back, or if a swab develops and doesn’t heal within few days, it may indicate a cancerous mole.

How to screen cancerous mole at home?

Some tips for screening moles for cancer include

  • Evaluating your skin regularly
  • Checking your entire body for moles or suspicious spots once a month, starting from your head and working your way down
  • Checking the hidden areas, especially between fingers and toes, the groin, soles of the feet and back of the knees
  • Checking your scalp and neck for moles
  • Using hand-held mirrors or asking help from your family members to locate the areas with suspicious moles
  • Taking a photo of the moles and monitoring them for any change
  • Paying special attention to moles, if you are a teen, pregnant or going through menopause (times when your hormones are surging)
  • Being cautious about a new mole

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References
WebMD. Precancerous Skin Lesions and Skin Cancer Slideshow. https://www.webmd.com/melanoma-skin-cancer/ss/skin-cancer-and-skin-lesions-overview

Skin Cancer Foundation. Melanoma Warning Signs. https://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/melanoma/melanoma-warning-signs-and-images/

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