Kevin Jonas' Skin Cancer Shines Light on Checking Your Moles

The pop star's diagnosis has people thinking more about skin cancer, the number one type of cancer in the United States. While it's not always easy to know if a suspicious spot could be cancerous, here's what to watch for when doing an at-home skin check.

In a recent Instagram post, Kevin Jonas of the Jonas Brothers pop group announced he had basal cell carcinoma — a form of skin cancer — and urged followers to consider visiting a dermatologist for a skin exam.

The video shows Jonas awaiting surgery to remove the cancer located on his forehead.


"Make sure to get those moles checked, people," Jonas said.

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. Statistics show that one out of five Americans will develop some type of skin cancer by the age of 70.

So, Jonas' announcement underscores the need for people to check themselves for suspicious areas on the skin, track a mole's size over time, and get regular skin exams by a dermatologist.

But what exactly should a person look for when examining their skin for skin cancer?

Types of skin cancer

Sun exposure and tanning bed use are the two most common causes of skin cancer. That's why health experts advise people to use sunscreen or sunblock to protect themselves from too much sun exposure.


Sun cancer occurs when ultraviolet light from these sources changes DNA, leading to the overgrowth of cells on the skin's outermost layer.

Still, skin cancer spots can appear anywhere on the body, even in areas not exposed to UV light, such as the bottom of the feet, or in odd places like the scalp or under the fingernail.

The primary types of skin cancer are squamous cell carcinoma, melanoma, Merkel cell carcinoma, and basal cell carcinoma. Moreover, each type can present differently depending on a person's skin tone or location on the body.

What does skin cancer look like?

Squamous cell carcinoma usually occurs in areas frequently exposed to the sun, including the face, scalp, or hands. It's the second most common type of skin cancer, and if not detected and treated early, it can grow quickly and spread.

Squamous cell carcinoma can appear as thick, rough, scaly patches on the skin that may crust or bleed. It can also look like a wart or open sore that never seems to heal. Sometimes, this type of skin cancer can look like a crater in the skin, with raised edges and a sunken spot in the middle of the lesion.

Melanoma is the type most people think about when someone mentions skin cancer. It's triggered by intermittent sunburn and tanning bed use. This type of cancer is more deadly than the other common types but is curable if treated early.

When examining the skin, a person should look for these five signs that might indicate a mole or spot could be melanoma.

  • Asymmetry: Melanoma can appear lopsided, and one half of the spot may not match the other.
  • Border: While typical moles have even borders, the edges of melanoma can look irregular and uneven.
  • Color: Non-cancerous moles are typically one shade of brown. However, melanoma can have varying shades of tan, brown, or black. Some may even have red, white, or blue areas.
  • Diameter: Size matters when it comes to melanoma. If a mole or spot is the same size or larger than the diameter of a pencil eraser, it should be checked by a dermatologist.
  • Evolving: Any changes in size, asymmetry, color, or new symptoms such as itchiness, bleeding, or crusting can be signs of melanoma.

Merkel cell carcinoma is a type of skin cancer associated with the Merkel cell polyomavirus and primarily impacts people with fair skin over age 50. It's rare but aggressive and may reoccur or spread throughout the body.

This type of skin cancer grows quickly and may look like a shiny, skin-colored, red, or purple bump.

Basal cell carcinoma, the type Jonas had, typically develops on sun-exposed areas and is the most common form of skin cancer. Although sometimes it can spread, it primarily impacts the area where it's located.

Basal cell cancer appears as a red patch or open sore that doesn't heal, a shiny brown, clear, red, pink, or white bump, a small crater-like growth, or a flat white or yellow area with faded borders.

Precancerous spots called actinic keratosis are also something to watch for when examining the skin. These spots tend to show up on sun-exposed areas and look like rough, red, brown, or pink skin patches. They can even form into a horn-like growth. In addition, actinic keratosis can be painful to the touch.

Although they grow slowly and aren't as concerning as skin cancer, a dermatologist can treat these spots by freezing them, using a chemical peel, or other techniques.

What to do if you find a suspicious mole or spot on the skin

If something seems suspicious, the first step is to make an appointment with a dermatologist. Often, they will remove or biopsy the spot to determine whether it's cancer.

Depending on the type of cancer, treatments may include surgery, chemical peels, chemotherapy, or radiation.

Still, due to the wide range of signs and symptoms, it can be challenging to know whether a spot or mole needs more investigation by a dermatologist. However, the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) developed a Body Mole Map to help people determine whether a mole is suspicious and track any changes.

In addition, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved a new AI-powered device called DermaSensor designed to help healthcare providers identify melanoma, basal cell, or squamous cell carcinoma.


Still, a person doesn't have to wait until they find a suspicious spot to visit a dermatologist. They can also schedule a yearly full-body skin exam to catch skin cancer early when it's highly treatable.


Leave a reply

Your email will not be published. All fields are required.