Moles, or nevi, are growths on the skin made up of melanocytes, the cells that make color in our skin. Moles are often skin colored or brown. They can appear anywhere on the body, alone or in groups. A person may have only a few moles or more than 100. Moles are generally harmless, but it is important to know that melanoma, a serious form of skin cancer, can develop from a mole, so it is important to know your moles and watch for changes in them.
A skin check is performed in our office to look at your moles. If any moles have unusual features, then we may want to take a skin biopsy, or sample, for further evaluation. The biopsy is then evaluated by a skin pathologist to determine if further treatment should be performed. If the mole is atypical or cancerous, then the entire mole and some of the surrounding skin, will then need to be removed. Or, if you would like a mole removed for cosmetic purposes, the same procedure will be performed. Mole removal surgery is very common and usually painless. There are different methods for removal depending on the type of mole or the extent of atypical features seen in a biopsy; these methods will be discussed with you.
The best way to identify potential problems is to know the pattern and placement of your moles, and to examine them often. When monitoring your moles, remember the "ABCDE" method of self-examination. That is:
- "A" stands for asymmetrical shape. Watch for moles with asymmetrical shape, such as two very different looking halves
- "B" is for border. Look for moles with irregular, ragged or blurred borders. This is one of the characteristics of melanoma.
- "C" is for color. Look for moles that do not have the same color throughout, or contain shades of brown, black, blue, or white, or red.
- "D" is for diameter. Watch for moles that are larger than the eraser of a pencil.
- "E" is for evolution. Look for changes over time, such as a mole that grows or changes shape or color.
If you notice any of the above irregularities in your moles, you should contact Dr. Ahmed right away.