Mole Frequency, Size & Shape
Most moles are harmless. But a change in color, shape, size, or texture may signal cancerous growth. People with 50 or more moles have a higher risk of developing a skin cancer. Moles with a higher-than-average chance of becoming cancerous include:
This type of mole is present at birth. The larger the size of a nevus, the greater the risk for developing into a skin cancer.
Atypical Dysplastic Nevi
These moles have an irregular shape and are larger than average. Many have dark brown centers with light-colored and uneven-shaped borders.
Mole Examination Guide
Abnormal moles may bleed and become itchy, painful, or scaly. Early detection of changes in moles is important for effective skin cancer prevention and treatment. Advanced Dermatology and Skin Cancer Centers recommends a monthly visual check of your body, including all areas that aren’t typically exposed to the sun. These areas include the armpits, scalp, and soles of the feet. Use the American Academy of Dermatology's ABCDEs as a guide for determining if a mole may become cancerous:
Asymmetry: There is a difference in color, shape, or size of the two halves of the mole.
Border: The edges of a mole have poor definition or are irregular in shape, such as scalloped borders.
Color: The color varies throughout the mole.
Diameter: Most cancerous moles have a diameter larger than 6 millimeters, but some may be smaller.
Evolving: A mole is evolving if it changes in color, shape, or size between examinations. Contact your dermatologist immediately if you experience any of these symptoms. Diagnosis of cancerous moles is usually done with a biopsy and/or surgical removal.