Going to the dermatologist for regular mole screenings is one of those things we know we should do but we often let fall by the wayside. But today we got a scary reminder when Hugh Jackman revealed he has skin cancer. "Deb said to get the mark on my nose checked. Boy, was she right! I had a basal cell carcinoma," he wrote on his Instagram. "Please don't be foolish like me. Get yourself checked. And USE sunscreen!!!"
Regularly checking in on your moles is not only easy but also smart. New or changing moles can be a sign of melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer. You can visit a dermatologist for a skin check, and you can even give yourself an at-home checkup with ease. You just have to remember your ABCs.
If your mole displays any of these warning signs, then it's a good idea to get it checked as soon as possible by a dermatologist to rule out melanoma:
- Asymmetry: If one half of the mole does not match the other half, then it's asymmetrical and should be checked.
- Border: Look at the border of your mole. Is it ragged, blurred, or irregular? If yes, then go in for a checkup.
- Color: Healthy moles are one consistent color. But moles that have different colors or varying shades of tan, brown, black, blue, white, or red can be dangerous.
- Diameter: Pull out your ruler. If your mole is larger than 6 mm, then make an appointment with your doctor.
- Elevation: Moles that are raised above the skin can be a sign of melanoma and should be checked.
Now, don't be nervous; not all moles that display these signs are linked to melanoma. But it's always a good idea to be safe rather than sorry, as skin cancer is usually fairly easy to treat and cure if it's caught early. Always keep an eye on irregular moles, and if you see a new mole appear, then go in for a check as soon as you can.
Not sure where to get screened? Visit the American Academy of Dermatology's website to find a free screening center near you. So heed Hugh's advice, and don't put off that visit to the dermatologist any longer . . . or skimp on the sunscreen.