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I have an itchy mole. Is it a symptom of skin cancer?

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Updated May 30, 2014

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I have an itchy mole. Is it a symptom of skin cancer?
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Question: I have an itchy mole. Is it a symptom of skin cancer?
Recently, a mole on my arm has been really itchy. Recently, I have notice that it is no longer flat and instead is raised. Is an itchy mole a symptom of skin cancer?
Answer: An itchy mole can be a symptom of melanoma, an aggressive form of skin cancer. However, you have to take into consideration other factors that may be causing your mole to itch. Are you using a new laundry detergent? Do you use lotion that contains fragrances or other chemicals that is irritating the skin? Think about what products you use and how they may cause skin irritation. If your mole is persistently itchy, you should certainly have it examined by your doctor.

A mole that has recently changed in appearance -- such as becoming elevated, in your case -- definitely needs to be evaluated by a dermatologist. The ABCDE rule of skin cancer states the characteristics of abnormal moles:

  • Asymmetry: Normal moles or freckles are completely symmetrical. If you were to draw a line through a normal spot, you would have two symmetrical halves. In cases of skin cancer, spots will not look the same on both sides.

  • Border: The borders or edges of an irregular mole are uneven, jagged or blurry.

  • Color: Normal moles are uniform in color. Moles are considered to be abnormal when they are more than one color or shade. This can include lightening or darkening of the mole.

  • Diameter: If a mole is larger than a pencil eraser (about 1/4 inch, or 6mm), it is considered to be abnormal. This includes moles that do not have any other abnormalities (color, border, asymmetry).

  • Evolution: Evolution refers to any changes in the symmetry, borders, colors, and diameter of an existing mole.

Abnormal Moles Are Not Always Cancerous

You should know that not all abnormal moles are cancerous. If you do have an abnormal mole, it is very important to have it checked out by a dermatologist. An untrained eye cannot determine if a mole is likely to be cancerous or not. It is important for you to check your skin monthly and have a yearly clinical skin exam by a doctor.

During a clinical skin exam, a doctor visually examines the skin to look for any new developments or changes to existing moles or spots. Remember, if you find anything abnormal, report it to your doctor as soon as possible. Do not wait for your yearly exam.

Source:

"Skin Cancer Symptoms". What You Need to Know About Skin Cancer. National Cancer Institute. 01 Aug 2005. Accessed April 2011. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/wyntk/skin/page6

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