Moles are nests of pigmented cells of the skin. Moles can be flat or raised and can vary in color, shape, and size.

Who gets moles?

People can develop moles in their youth and often continue to develop moles with age. The tendency to develop moles depends on genetics. Genetics also plays a role in whether a mole may evolve into a cancerous spot, as does sun exposure. Studies show that the risk of melanoma, a type of skin cancer, quadruples if you have moles.

Our providers recommend annual skin exams for skin cancer surveillance. These examinations entail a full body examination of each mole for common signs of skin cancer. The ABCDE’s of moles is a tool you can use to identify spots that might be changing into irregular moles.

A – Asymmetry

This shows the difference between a symmetrical mole and an asymmetrical mole. If you draw a line through the asymmetrical mole, the two halves will not match, meaning it is asymmetrical, a warning sign of melanoma.

asymmetry of moles

B – Border

The borders of an early melanoma tend to be uneven. The edges may be scalloped or notched.

border of mole

C – Color

Having a variety of colors is another warning signal. A number of different shades of brown, tan, or black could appear. A melanoma may also become red, white, or blue.

color of moles

D – Diameter

Melanomas usually are larger in diameter than the size of an eraser on your pencil (/4 inch or 6 mm), but they may be smaller when detected.


E – Evolving

When a mole is evolving in any way, you should schedule an appointment to have it evaluated by one of our providers. Any change in size, shape, color, elevation, or any other train, or a new symptom such as bleeding, itching, or crusting, suggests that the mole could be a skin cancer.

evolving moles

Check out this video on how to detect an unusual mole!

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