Q. My husband has black moles on his face - could this be melanoma? How serious are they if they change?

A.

Moles are pigmented (colored) cells that can look like small, dark spots on your skin. They can range in color, but the majority are dark brown. Moles can become cancerous, but this is rare. To help recognize the signs of melanoma, the American Academy of Dermatology created the ABCDEs of melanoma detection:

  • Asymmetry: One half of the mole or pigmented spot is different than the other half
  • Borders: The mole or spot has irregular or poorly defined borders
  • Colors: Color is varied from one area to another. Includes shades of tan, brown, black (also can include white, red or blue)
  • Diameter: Spot is usually greater than 6mm (size of pencil eraser)
  • Evolving: A mole or spot that looks different from others or changes in size, shape, or color.

Your husband should have the moles on his face (and any others) checked out by a doctor. You can search for a dermatologist through the American Academy of Dermatology’s Find a Dermatologist database. The National Cancer Institute offers information about preventing skin cancer and melanoma. Additionally, the Melanoma Research Foundation provides a wealth of information about the prevention and treatment of melanoma.