Everyone has some sort of mole. Moles vary in size, shape and pigmentation. In addition, some moles are harmless while others can be very dangerous. Some moles are dark brown while others are tan or pink. Some are smooth while others are raised from the skin and may have hair protruding from them. They can be as tiny as a pinhead or they may be much larger. They can occur singly or in groups, as freckles do. For moles that are not cancerous, treatment is only necessary if you feel that they are in an uncomfortable position or you feel that they are unattractive. In such cases, your dermatologist can perform a simple excision biopsy to remove the mole. If you do not want to remove the mole, you may choose to conceal it with cosmetics or enjoy it as a unique beauty mark.
However, dangerous moles can develop into melanoma, a form of skin cancer. People who have a large number of moles tend to have a greater chance of this occurring. Knowing the warning signs of problem moles is the first step to making sure you stay healthy. Remember, normal moles tend to be rounded. If you have a mole that is asymmetrical (that is, one whose halves don’t match), or if you have a mole that is ragged around the edges and/or larger than six millimeters in diameter, you may want to consult your doctor. In addition, if your mole has a red, blue, or white hue, it may be a problem mole. If your mole changes in shape, color, or size over time, consult your doctor.
For suspect moles, you doctor may perform a small biopsy to get a definitive diagnosis. If your mole is found to be cancerous, your doctor will remove the remainder of it as a safety measure and will suggest regular testing to make sure that the cancer does not recur or spread. Less concerning moles may simply be monitored for changes.
You can help prevent skin cancer. When you are outside, especially in the summer and even if it is overcast, apply sunscreen on exposed areas. Sunscreen should be reapplied after two hours and after getting in a body of water or showering. Cover up by wearing hats, long sleeves and pants. Remember: regular testing and consultations with your doctor, especially if you are in a high-risk group, will keep you informed and healthy.