What is a Mole?
A mole is a cluster of pigmented cells that can appear anywhere on the body. Moles are usually dark brown or black, but some may have pink, tan, red or blue tones. They range in size from 2mm to 1cm in diameter and may be flat or raised above the surface of the skin.
In most cases, moles are harmless and do not require medical intervention. However, if you notice changes in size, shape, color or texture of a mole it could be a sign of melanoma – an aggressive form of skin cancer – and should be checked as soon as possible. Other warning signs include pain, itching and bleeding around the mole area.
If you're worried about a mole, or have any questions or concerns, it's always best to call us and schedule an appointment for the mole to be reviewed. We can then advise you on the best course of action and provide further information about how to monitor your mole or moles for any changes going forward.
Remember: If you notice anything unusual about one of your moles, make an appointment as soon as possible. Early detection is key when it comes to spotting skin cancer – so don't delay in seeking medical advice if you're worried.
Mole or Melanoma?
It is rare for a common mole to turn into melanoma, which is the most serious type of skin cancer. Common moles are not cancerous, but moles and melanoma can be confused.
Melanoma is caused by changes to the melanin-producing cells in the body. It can be serious and potentially fatal. Melanoma can develop anywhere on the body, but it most often appears as a new, unusual-looking mole or growth.
What are the signs and symptoms of melanoma?
Changes in size, shape, or color in an existing mole.
Moles with irregular edges
Moles that are larger than normal
Moles that have become painful or itchy
Early detection of melanoma is essential to increasing survival rates. If caught early, treatment for melanoma can be successful. Regular self-checks for any signs of suspicious skin changes should be done, and if something looks abnormal, call and schedule an appointment immediately. With regular skin checks once a year and early detection, it is possible to reduce the risk of developing melanoma.
It is also important to practice sun safety in order to help prevent melanoma. This can include seeking shade when outdoors, wearing protective clothing such as long-sleeved shirts and hats, using a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher that is water resistant and reapplying every two hours. Taking these steps will not only protect you from the harmful effects of UV rays but may also decrease your chances of developing melanoma.
Finally, it is important to let us know if you have any family history of melanoma. Your risk is higher if one or more of your relatives has had it. Around 10% of people with melanoma have a family history.