There are several skin lesions that are very common and benign (non-cancerous). These conditions include moles, freckles, skin tags, benign lentigines, and seborrheic keratoses.
Moles and Your Skin
Moles are growths on the skin that are usually brown or black. Moles can appear anywhere on the skin, alone or in groups.
Most moles appear in early childhood and during the first 30 years of a person’s life. It is normal to have between 10-40 moles by adulthood.
As the years pass, moles usually change , becoming raised and/or changing color. Often, hairs develop on the mole. Some moles may not change at all, while others may slowly disappear over time.
What Causes a Mole?
Types of Moles
They can be raised or flat.
How Do I Know if a Mole Is Cancer?
Most moles are not dangerous. The only moles that are of medical concern are those that look different than other existing moles or those that first appear after age 20. If you notice changes in a mole’s color, height, size, or shape, you should have a dermatologist (skin doctor) evaluate it. You also should have moles checked if they bleed, ooze, itch, appear scaly, or become tender or painful.
Examine your skin with a mirror or ask someone to help you. Pay special attention to areas of your skin that are often exposed to the sun, such as the hands, arms, chest, neck, face, and ears.
If your moles do not change over time, there is little reason for concern. If you see any signs of change in an existing mole, if you have a new mole, or if you want a mole to be removed for cosmetic reasons, talk to your dermatologist.
The following ABCDEs are important characteristics to consider when examining your moles. If a mole displays any of the signs listed below, have it checked immediately by a dermatologist. It could be cancerous.
- Asymmetry. One half of the mole does not match the other half.
- Border. The border or edges of the mole are ragged, blurred, or irregular.
- Color. The color of the mole is not the same throughout or has shades of tan, brown, black, blue, white, or red.
- Diameter. The diameter of a mole is larger than the eraser of a pencil.
- Evolution. The mole is changing in size, shape, or color.
- Melanoma is a form of skin cancer. The most common location for melanoma in men is the back and in women, it is the lower leg. Melanoma is a common cancer in women ages 25 to 29.
How Are Moles Treated?
If a dermatologist believes a mole needs to be evaluated further or removed entirely, he or she will remove the entire mole to examine thin sections of the tissue under a microscope (a biopsy). This is a simple procedure. (If the dermatologist thinks the mole might be cancerous, cutting through the mole will not cause the cancer to spread.)
If the mole is found to be cancerous, and only a small section of tissue was taken, the dermatologist will remove the entire mole by cutting out the entire mole and a rim of normal skin around it, and stitching the wound closed.
Treatment of choice for ordinary moles at DFA