Moles are the result of the accumulation of melanocytes, or pigmented cells, in a localized area. Referred to as nevi, moles come in all shapes, sizes, and a variety of colors. Some may be very light and barely noticeable, while others are red, brown, or black, making them difficult to disguise. Typically, moles are considered harmless growths. However, they may present cosmetic concerns depending on where they are.
Don't ignore a mole that's changing. If you don't like the prospect of having surgery, you might be tempted to let your mole be and forget about it. That's usually fine, unless you notice that the mole has changed over time. A changing mole can be a sign of the presence of cancer cells, so you should have any mole checked out by your doctor. Use the ABCDE guide to examine your mole. If you notice the following, be sure to make an appointment with a doctor:
Skin cancers occur when skin cells undergo malignant transformations and grow into tumors. The most common types of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, are highly curable when they are diagnosed and treated early. Sun exposure, tanning beds, depressed immune system, radiation exposure, and certain viral infections are risk factors for skin cancer. Skin cancers are treated with surgery or radiation. The prognosis of nonmelanoma skin cancers is generally very good.
Cindy Crawford has a mole, and Marilyn Monroe had one. In the Renaissance era, they were thought of as beauty enhancers, but if a mole is unsightly or bothersome, it is worth having it removed. Madonna had a mole and didn’t like the way it looked, so she had it removed. Benign moles can be removed easily with minimal risk of scarring thanks to modern techniques.
Moles are extremely common skin growths, most adults have from 10 to 40 moles, and they can develop on virtually any part of the body. They may be flat or raised, and nearly color brown, black, pink, red, white, purple, blue, or flesh colored. Most moles are non-cancerous (benign), and no cause for concern. However, a mole can sometimes develop into melanoma, a dangerous form of skin cancer.