Growths on the skin are known as moles. They arise when pigment cells in the skin called melanocytes grow in clusters. Moles are common among people of all ages and can be pink, tan, brown, flat, or raised. They are usually oval and small or medium in size.
Fortunately, most moles are non-cancerous and harmless. However, sometimes a mole can develop into melanoma, which is a dangerous type of skin cancer.
Types of Moles
There are three different types of moles including:
- Atypical Moles: These moles are odd shaped but harmless. Individuals with more than 50 atypical moles are at an increased risk for melanoma.
- Congenital Moles: You are born with congenital moles. Although they are usually harmless, children with very large ones may have a higher chance of developing melanoma.
- Acquired Moles: Acquired moles appear after you’re born and are most common in individuals with lighter skin tones. If you have more than 50, you may be at an increased risk for melanoma.
How to Determine if a Mole May Be Cancerous
It’s important to examine your moles on a regular basis and use the ABCDE method of melanoma prevention. This method involves searching for:
- Asymmetrical Shapes: Look for moles that have an asymmetrical shape such as two halves that look very different.
- Borders with Irregularities: Moles with irregular or blurred borders may be a sign of melanoma.
- Color: Search for moles that contain different colors throughout or shades of brown, black, blue, white, or red.
- Diameter: Moles that are larger than a pencil’s eraser may be concerning.
- Evolving or Changing Moles: If your moles grow or change in shape or color, they may be cancerous.
If you notice any of the following, it’s important to schedule an appointment at our office right away.
Once you visit our office, we will carefully evaluate your moles and determine whether a biopsy is necessary. A biopsy will involve removing a portion of the mole so that it can be examined under a microscope to determine whether there are cancerous cells.
If your mole is precancerous or cancerous, a mole removal will be recommended. Here at Blue Ridge Dermatology, we remove moles using the following strategies:
- Surgical excision, which involves cutting out the entire mole and stitching the skin together.
- Surgical shave where we use a surgical blade to shave down the mole.
Contact Blue Ridge Dermatology Today
If you believe you have a concerning mole or you would like to get one removed for cosmetic reasons, schedule an appointment at our office today.