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How can one tell is a mole is cancerous?

How do you know for sure if a mole is cancerous? I've had a large, brown mole on my chest since I was a kid, but recently I'm pretty sure it has been growing. Is there any good way for me to tell whether it's cancerous, or do I just have to take it to a doctor? How would a doctor decide?
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!
This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.
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