What are Moles?

Some refer to moles as beauty marks, while others consider them cosmetic flaws. It may be just a matter of taste, but abnormal or suspicious moles should always be examined by a physician to determine if they are cancerous. If they are found to be cancerous, they should be removed immediately. In most cases, however, moles are benign and removal is up to the individual.

Are Moles Genetic?

The reason moles develop is not completely understood. Some researchers believe that the sun's ultraviolet rays play a role in mole development, while others attribute mole formation to genetics.

Moles are clusters of melanocytes (pigment producing cells) that form on the skin. The sun stimulates melanocytes to produce melanin, which may lead to excess levels of melanin in the skin.

Cancerous Moles

Dysplastic nevi are abnormal moles that may be more likely to be cancerous. If you notice an abnormal or suspicious looking mole, seek medical advice immediately. A skin cancer screening may be performed to determine if the mole is cancerous. This may include taking a biopsy (sample) of the mole for testing.

ABCDE is a tool used to help determine if a mole may be cancerous. 'A' stands for asymmetry, 'B' stands for border irregularities (notches in the border), 'C' stands for color (various hues of color), 'D' stands for diameter (6mm or larger) and 'E' stands for evolving (changing), all characteristics of abnormal moles. However, patients are encouraged to have all new moles, changes to existing moles and suspicious moles checked by a doctor, as these characteristics do not apply to all melanomas (serious form of skin cancer). Some melanomas may be perfectly symmetrical, uniform in color, smaller than 6mm and have a normal border.

Removing Moles

Moles that are found to be cancerous should be removed immediately. Further tests may be conducted to determine if cancer is present in other parts of the body. Moles found to be benign are not required to be removed, although some patients choose to have them removed anyway for cosmetic reasons.

Removal usually involves cutting away the mole and the surrounding skin. Cryotherapy is a procedure that involves freezing the mole using liquid nitrogen, while laser treatment may also be used for removal. In cases of cancerous moles, they are almost always removed using a scalpel.

To learn more about moles, melanoma and other forms of skin cancer, consult a licensed physician. This is the best resource for further information about moles and other skin conditions. SkinCareGuide.com also has further information about moles and treatment for moles.

Have specific questions?

All Article Categories

Before & After Photos

Suggested Doctors

Recently Asked Questions