Many people develop moles over the course of their lives.  Some people have 50+, while others have only a few to none at all.  The standard mole that most people have is called a melanocytic nevus.  A nevus is the medical term for a mole.  These moles are made up of nevomelanocytes.  This benign (noncancerous) concentration of cells produce a compound called melanin.  Melanin gives our skin its pigment and makes our skin appear darker.  Most times moles are benign and are of little concern as far as your health goes.  However, there are times when moles can become something more concerning.  About 25% of melanomas develop from a preexisting mole.


If you have a mole biopsied (tested), it is likely to come back as one of a few varieties.  1)  It comes back as simply benign with no atypia or abnormalities.  2)  It comes back as a dysplastic nevus.  This means that the mole looked abnormal under the microscope.  It is then graded as mild, moderate, or severe.  Your dermatology provider will give you more information or potentially recommend further treatment if necessary.  3)  It comes back as a melanoma.  There is no argument as to what should be done with these.  These should be re-excised (cut out) with appropriate margins determined by your dermatology provider.

So which moles should you be worried about?  What should you be looking for?  That is a great question.  All patients I see in clinic get a sheet from the American Academy of Dermatology that educates on sun protection and concerning changes in moles.  I will outline the ABCDEs of melanoma that are covered in that document.

A(symmetry) – one half of the mole does not look like the other

B(order irregularity) – irregular, scalloped, or poorly defined borders

C(olor change) – varied color from one area to another; shades of tan and brown, black; sometimes white, red or blue

D(iameter of greater than or equal to 6mm) – this is about the size of a pencil eraser

E(volution with time) – changes in size, shape, or color within several months


If you notice any mole exhibiting these characteristics or just want a good skin exam for preventative purposes call our office and make an appointment for further evaluation from one of our excellent dermatology providers.

Bentonville:  701 NW McNelly Rd., Bentonville, AR 72712 (479-268-3555)

Fayetteville:  1444 E Stearns St., Fayetteville, AR 72703 (479-718-7546)

Harrison:  620 N Main, Harrison, AR 72601 (870-204-5279)

Ryan Crowder, MPAS, PA-C

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