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Moles often appear as small, dark brown spots on the skin, anywhere on your body. Most moles are harmless and don’t require special care, but in some cases may become cancerous. The surface of the mole may be smooth, wrinkled, flat or raised. Two types of moles that are always a concern are congenital moles and atypical moles (dysplastic moles). These two types of moles are at a much higher risk of being cancerous. If you notice any of the following symptoms from a mole, promptly make an appointment.


• Asymmetrical (when one half of the mole looks different)

• Painful

• Itching or burning

• Suddenly different size, shape, color (especially if part or all of the mole turns    black) or elevation


If we find the mole suspicious, we will take a biopsy of the mole to determine if it is cancerous. If the mole is cancerous, then the entire mole and a margin of normal tissue around the mole will be surgically removed. This procedure can be done in the office, in a short amount of time.


Be proactive. Become familiar with your moles and check them on a regular basis, ideally once a month. If you detect any changes in a mole contact us. To prevent skin cancer, avoid overexposure to the sun and wear sunscreen at all times. You should also wear protective clothing such as hats, long sleeves and pants.

Atypical Mole (Dysplastic Nevi)

This type of mole is usually a benign mole that may resemble melanoma. The majority of these moles will not become malignant however; researchers have discovered that atypical moles are more likely, than other types of moles, to develop into skin cancer. Because of this moles should be checked regularly by your doctor


You have a higher risk of getting melanoma if you have:


■  4 or more atypical moles

■  Already had a melanoma

■  A first-degree relative (parent, brother, sister, or child ) who had melanoma Your dermatologist may call an atypical mole a dysplastic (dis-plas-tic) nevus. Atypical moles are often:


■  Larger than an eraser on the end of a pencil

■  Have an odd shape (not round)

■  Show more than 1 color — mixes of tan, brown, red, and pink


Atypical moles can appear anywhere on the body. They often appear on the trunk. And they may appear on the scalp, head, and neck. Atypical moles rarely appear on the face.


Source: Image and content provided by the American Academy of Dermatology

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