When To Be Concerned About a Mole

Moles are fairly common and generally harmless. Most people have at least a few moles somewhere on their skin. However, it is important to know when to be concerned about a mole. It is possible for moles to develop a rare type of skin cancer known as melanoma. Dr. Michael Braden, the board-certified dermatologist at Braden Dermatology in Comfort, TX, screens moles for signs of skin cancer.

What Are Moles?

Moles, also called nevi, are formed by cells called melanocytes, which are responsible for the skin’s pigmentation. Melanocyte cells normally spread out across the skin but sometimes grow in clusters, which results in a mole.

Moles are usually brown or black in color with an oval or round shape. They can be smooth or rough, as well as flat or raised. It is not uncommon for an adult to have anywhere between 10 to 40 moles on their body. Additionally, the average life span of a mole is about 50 years so it is possible for a mole to eventually disappear on its own.

Moles and Skin Cancer Warning Signs

Moles are harmless for the most part and rarely become cancerous. However, it is possible for moles to develop a form of skin cancer called melanoma. The risk of developing melanoma is higher in individuals with more than 50 moles on their bodies. Other risk factors for developing melanoma include having fair skin, a history of sustaining sunburns, and excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light via the sun or tanning beds.

Although moles are usually noncancerous and harmless, there are warning signs to be concerned about. The knowledgeable and experienced dermatologists at our office in Comfort, TX, check moles for melanoma and other types of skin cancer during a skin cancer screening. Some of the signs of possible skin cancer the doctors look for when examining moles include:

  • Asymmetry: Each half of a mole should match in shape, size, and color. Asymmetry is a warning sign.
  • Border: The border or edges of a mole should not be poorly defined, scalloped, or irregular. An unusual border is a sign of possible skin cancer.
  • Color: The color of a mole should be consistent throughout. Inconsistent color, such as brown with black dots, is a warning sign.
  • Diameter: Large moles with a diameter of 6mm (about 1/4 inch) or more could be cancerous.
  • Evolving: Changes in the texture, color, shape, or size of a mole over time are another warning sign.

There is usually no cause for concern with most moles, but asymmetry, an irregular border, and inconsistent color are a few warning signs. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Michael Braden by calling Braden Dermatology in Comfort, TX, at (830) 995-3376 to have your moles checked for skin cancer.

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