When it comes to your health and skin cancer, it’s a good idea to be proactive and keep an eye out for dangerous moles. Moles can be linked to skin cancer. This is especially true if you have a family history of skin cancer linked to moles.
Moles are growths on the skin that are usually brown or black. Moles can appear anywhere on the body and may sometimes be found in groups. Although many moles are completely benign and pose no health risk, some people choose to remove them because they consider them unattractive. Regularly using a strong sunscreen, and monitoring birthmarks and moles for changes, is highly recommended. Our Fort Myers and Naples dermatologists can remove any mole that looks suspicious.
Types of Moles
There are different types of moles, including:
- Congenital mole (dark and irregularly shaped)
- Atypical mole (irregular color and undefined borders)
Most moles are harmless. However, some atypical moles have the potential to be or become malignant. Atypical moles may be asymmetrical, or have irregular borders and uneven coloring; they can be located anywhere on the body, including areas not exposed to the sun.
Diagnosis of Moles
A thorough physician-performed examination of the skin is necessary to determine whether a mole needs immediate treatment or simply to be checked on a recurring basis. When a mole is diagnosed as atypical, it may need immediate treatment. A patient with an atypical mole may have a personal or family history of melanoma, which increases the possibility of malignancy.
A mole should be examined by a physician if it is:
- Larger than 6 millimeters
- Itching or bleeding
- Rapidly changing color, size or shape
- Located in a difficult-to-monitor area (such as the scalp)
If a mole is irregular and needs to be evaluated further, either the entire mole is removed, or a small tissue sample taken, in order to biopsy it. If only a small section of tissue is taken and it is diagnosed as malignant, the entire mole will be removed, along with a margin of normal skin around it. Cutting into a malignant mole will not cause cancer to spread. If the malignancy is caught early enough, this may be the only treatment needed.