There are some general rules to keep in mind when assessing moles for cancer risk. It is possible to keep track of some of your moles with self-checks and indeed this is an important step in catching melanoma (skin cancer) early. However, an annual mole check by a physician is still necessary, especially in very fair-skinned individuals or individuals with multiple moles (or 'nevi'--the medical term for moles).
When doing a self-assessment of moles, it is useful to follow the simple mnemonic ABCD:
A is for Asymmetry, if one side of the mole looks different than the other then the mole should be checked
B is for Borders: ragged, uneven or notched borders are worrisome
C is for Color: change in color or multiple different colors in the same mole are worrisome
D is for Diameter: any mole greater than 6mm should be checked
Other warning signs include:
-any change in shape, size or color in a mole.
-burning, itching or bleeding
from the mole
-redness or swelling around the mole
All these self-exam tips should not replace a yearly check-up by your physician. Also, keep in mind one of the best ways to prevent skin cancer is limiting sun exposure and daily use of sunblock. Hope this helps!