These days, it doesn’t seem like wearing sunscreen and covering up with clothing or hats is nearly enough. Despite being warned for decades about the dangers of sun exposure, skin cancer continues to run rampant across North America and around the world. The lifetime prevalence of skin cancer is one in six people and it accounts for one third of all cancers around the world. Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are the most common forms of skin cancer and are relatively benign. If your doctor catches these forms of malignancy early enough, they can be removed without problem and are unlikely to return or spread to other areas of the body.

Melanoma is by far the most dangerous form of skin cancer. Seventy-five percent of all deaths associated with skin cancer will be due to malignant melanoma. It is the eighth most common cancer in the United States and can be devastating if not detected early enough. This form of skin cancer can easily spread to other parts of the body, including the brain. It’s obvious that the widespread effects of melanoma should be avoided at all costs. This can be achieved by regular skin inspection by your doctor and removal of any suspicious moles.

So you’ve spent a little too much unprotected time in the sun over the years. Big deal. Your face shows the signs with a few extra wrinkles and maybe you have darkened liver spots on your hands and forearms. You’re okay with all of that. It’s worth enjoying your time in the sun without having to worry about gunky sunscreen.

But, on the last visit to your family physician, she found a suspicious mole. Now what?

Moles come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and colors. No two moles are alike and most moles are completely harmless. Your family doctor should be able to tell which moles are likely to be more dangerous based on the ABCDE’s of skin cancer:

irregular Border,
dark or changing Color,
large Diameter, and

Your doctor will also be suspicious of any moles that have recently changed shape, size or color. If he or she is in doubt, they will likely recommend removing the mole and sending it to the pathology lab for analysis.

Mole removal can leave unsightly scarring, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Electing to have a board-certified plastic surgeon remove your mole is likely to leave less scar tissue and give you better aesthetic results. Dr. Pittman is a board-certified plastic surgeon that has extensive experience with the skin. He can delicately remove any mole on nearly any part of your body and leave behind almost no telltale scarring. This technique obviously has great benefits when removing potential skin cancer from highly-visible areas of the body such as the face, neck, arms, and hands. Keep your skin beautiful while protecting your body from the devastating effects of skin cancer.