Moles and their treatment
Moles are very common. They develop in the first few months and years of live and there are very few adults who have no moles at all.
Most moles cause no problems. However, it you have a lot of moles (more than 40-50) then it makes sense to check your moles, or to have them checked.
Why check moles if they are normal and do not cause problems?
Moles generally do not change over time and can be safely ignored. Some moles change as you age and some can become cancerous. Checking moles can detect the first sign of cancerous changes to that the mole can be removed to prevent the cancer spreading.
What type of cancer originates in moles?
A type called malignant melanoma. Unlike most forms of skin cancer, which rarely spread to other parts of the body, malignant melanoma can be both aggressive and invasive.
This means that a melanoma can grow quickly, it can spread through the skin and it can spread to other parts of the body, causing advanced cancer that is difficult to treat.
You should not be overly worried about your moles. But you should be aware of any changes in your moles.
Checking your skin can help you find melanoma early. A dermatologist can show you how to examine your skin and tell you how often you should check your skin. At Cedars Dermatology Clinic we also provide a full digital mole checking service.
If you want to check your own moles, or those of a partner or close friend, its important to understand what a normal mole is like.
A normal mole:
- Can be a variety of colours – often brown, but a mole can be tan, black, red, pink, blue, skin-toned, or colourless.
- Is round in shape with smooth edges.
- Is flat or slightly raised.
- Looks the same from month to month.
Your moles may not look alike. Even in the same person, moles can differ in size, shape, or colour. Moles can have hair. Some moles will change slowly over time, possibly even disappearing.
Moles can appear anywhere on the skin. Moles develop on the scalp, between the fingers and toes, on the soles and palms, and even under the nails.
An abnormal mole is one that shows one of the ABCDE signs described below. If you see a mole or new spot on your skin that has any of the ABCDEs of melanoma, make an appointment to see your doctor or come in for a mole check.
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A - Asymmetrical Shape
Moles that are turning into a melanoma skin cancer often have an irregular outline and may not be symmetrical in shape. Normal, harmless moles are usually symmetrical.
B - Border
Normal, harmless moles have smooth, definite and even borders. Melanoma moles usually have irregular borders and seem to blend into the skin at their margins.
C - Color
The presence of more than one color (blue, black, brown, tan, etc.) or the uneven distribution of color can sometimes be a warning sign of melanoma. Normal, harmless moles are usually a single shade of brown or tan.
D - Diameter
Moles that are becoming cancerous are often greater than 6 millimeters in diameter (approximately the size of a pencil eraser).
E - Evolution
Evolution means change and this is the most important thing to look for when checking your moles. Knowing what is normal for YOU could save your life. If a mole has gone through recent changes in colour and/or size (ie it has changed noticeably within a few weeks/months), bring it to the attention of a dermatologist immediately.