A mole is a common skin growth that can be raised or flat and may appear, brown, flesh colored, or black. Most moles appear during the first two decades of life, but can also appear later in life. Development of moles is mostly hereditary, but sun exposure can increase the amount of moles that a person develops. While most melanoma develops in unrelated sites, it can develop in or near moles, so it is important to examine your moles on a regular basis to look for any changes.
When checking moles, look for the ABCDE’s of Melanoma (Skin Cancer)
There are several different types of moles
- Atypical or dysplastic nevi are moles that have somewhat irregular cells under the microscope. While these lesions are benign, they do indicate that you may have an increased risk of developing a melanoma, especially if you have family members with a history of melanoma.
- Congenital nevi are moles that appear from birth. If these moles are large (>20cm) or if there are many, you may have an increased risk of developing melanoma.
A vast majority of moles are benign, however if they are irritated or changing, they can be easily removed with a local surgical excision or shave removal. If there is any question about potential cancer, the mole will be sent to a pathologist for further investigation.