Identifying Skin Cancer: Mole or Melanoma

Robert G. Parker
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Dr. Parker is a podiatrist and surgeon in Houston, TX who has been helping patients for more than 40 years.

People may consider summer over after Labor Day, but in Houston the sun is still powerful and can still cause problems for your skin. The skin on your feet is typically covered by shoes, but that doesn’t mean it never deals with harsh effects of the sun. Over time, UV radiation can cause malignant changes, like melanoma. You have to inspect your feet regularly to catch these changes. However, knowing what is melanoma and what is just a normal mole or freckle is key to identifying skin cancer before it has a chance to become dangerous.

Melanoma, the most deadly of the skin cancers, often mimics moles and freckles. Thankfully there are tell-tale signs that can help you identify if the spot you have on your foot is a regular, benign pigmentation, or if it’s cancer. The four main signs are called the ABCDs of melanoma: asymmetry, borders, color, and diameter.

  • Asymmetry – Malignant spots are usually asymmetrical, so one half the lesion will be shaped differently from the other.

  • Borders – Cancerous spots have irregular or oddly shaped edges or borders. Watch spots that appear to have ragged, blurred, or notched edges.

  • Color – Lesions that have multiple shades or colors to them, instead of a single shade, may be cancerous.

  • Diameter – Melanoma grows rapidly, so affected spots may get bigger suddenly. Beware of lesions that are more than 5 millimeters, or the width of a pencil eraser, in diameter.

A malignant spot may have any one or more of these symptoms, so make sure you have suspect pigmentation checked right away. Regular moles or freckles, on the other hand, tend to have uniform shape, color, edges, and a small size. Identifying skin cancer early is crucial. Make sure you inspect your feet on a regular basis - at least several times a week - for new spots or changes in your moles.

Don’t take any spots on your foot for granted. If you have a mole or other darkened pigmentation, pay close attention to it. If you’re concerned about a lesion, let Parker Foot & Ankle know. We’ll inspect it carefully for you. After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry—no one wants to find themselves battling a serious cancer. Send us a request online or call our Houston office at (281) 497-2850 to reach us for an appointment.

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