Most moles are harmless, but in some cases, the cells become cancerous. Because early detection is so important when it comes to skin cancer, board-certified dermatologist Lance Henry, MD and his team at Advanced Dermatology & Skin Cancer Center, PLLC offer comprehensive skin checks and mole biopsies.

Moles Q & A

What causes moles?
Most men and women have between 10-40 moles, although you can certainly have more. Moles develop when groups of pigment-producing cells called melanocytes start to pile up on top of each other. Even though most moles aren’t a cause for concern, they do have the potential to turn into malignant melanoma. Some of the most common causes or risk factors of mole development include:

  • Frequent sun or tanning bed exposure
  • A family history of moles
  • Being Caucasian or fair-skinned

Since moles can quickly become abnormal and turn into skin cancer, it’s crucial to understand the warning signs.

When is a mole considered abnormal?
To help you evaluate your moles at home between skin checks at Advanced Dermatology & Skin Cancer Center, PLLC, we can counsel you on the ABCDE acronym for abnormal moles:

  • Asymmetrical shape

If half of your mole is different than the other side, it could be an indicator of cancerous cell production.

  • Border   

The borders of your moles should be smooth and even. If you notice irregular, notched, or scalloped borders, it’s time to have your moles checked out.

  • Color

Moles should be consistent in color — most are dark brown. If you find that your moles are changing color and continue getting darker, or if your moles have an uneven color, they could be problematic.

  • Diameter

Moles should be small. It’s important to have any mole evaluated that gets bigger than 1/4 inch.

  • Evolving

Watch for moles that are evolving and changing in size, height, shape, or color. In some cases, abnormal moles itch or bleed, too.

Do I need to have moles removed?
You typically only need to have moles removed if any of the above issues are apparent — like a change in size or color. Our team can remove moles in the  office by thoroughly numbing your skin and gently shaving off the worrisome tissue.

Next, we send your specimen to the lab for further evaluation to see if it contains any cancerous cells. If your moles are cancerous, you may need additional testing to ensure the cancer didn’t spread to other areas, like your lymph nodes.

Once you’re fully treated, we usually recommend coming in at least once a year for comprehensive skin checks. If you have a history of abnormal moles, we may want to see you more frequently.

Book your mole evaluation and skin check at Advanced Dermatology & Skin Cancer Center, PLLC either online or over the phone.