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Skin Care and Diseases

Melanoma question

11/07/2005

Question:

If a mole has one of the ABCD`s of melanoma`s red flags, does that mean that the mole is definitely a melanoma?

Answer:

As you know, the identification of a melanoma clinically can be difficult in its early phases.  Many normal nevi have some variation in color, some swell because of a cyst under them and not a melanoma; but if one has redness, multiple colors, irregular margins it is always appropriate to biopsy those to be certain that it's not simply an atypical nevus but is in fact a melanoma.  My advice to patients is that if there is a change in a mole, have your board certified dermatologist review that since one abnormality does not necessarily make the diagnosis of melanoma.

In trying to determine change in nevi it is appropriate to take pictures.  Now with electronic cameras we are able to keep the pictures private and you can review them with your family members to see if there is a change.  In any event, if you have a mole change please have your physician review the lesion and if there is any question biopsy the lesion.

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Response by:

Charles L Heaton, MD
Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati