In most cases, moles are not considered a medical concern. However, in some cases, melanomas (a serious form of skin cancer) may form in moles. Abnormal or suspicious moles should be examined by a physician and treatment administered immediately if the mole is found to be cancerous.

Appearance of Moles

Most moles appear as small brown spots on the skin. They may be flat or raised and may be oval or round. Moles may be very tiny or may be large enough to cover a significant portion of the body. In most cases, moles are smaller than 6mm in diameter. Some moles may be hairy and others may be smooth and hairless. Moles may also have wrinkles and different textures as well.

Abnormal Moles

If a mole is deemed abnormal or suspicious, it should be examined by a physician right away. Examples that may cause a mole to be classified as abnormal include asymmetry, notches in the border, various hues of color in a single mole and a diameter of 6mm or larger.

ABCDE is an easy way to remember these characteristics. ABDCE stands for Asymmetry, Border irregularities, Color, Diameter, and Evolving (meaning changing). Be aware, though, that cancerous moles may be perfectly symmetrical, uniform in color, smaller than 6mm and have a normal border. Have any new mole or change to an existing mole checked by a physician.

If the mole itches, oozes, bleeds, has a burning sensation, is painful or suddenly changes in size, shape, color or elevation, see a doctor immediately. For more information about moles and to determine if a mole is cancerous, consult a dermatologist or physician.