When to Seek Medical Treatment for Moles
Skin Cancer Care Specialists | February 3, 2020
What is a mole?
Moles are a common phenomenon experienced by people of all ages worldwide. On the outside, a mole is an enduring, darkened spot on the skin.
Scientifically speaking, moles are a group of pigment-producing cells that grew in a cluster. The elevated concentration of these melanocytes causes the skin to appear darker where the cluster is located.
The appearance (or presence) of moles may vary across an individual’s lifetime in response to a number of factors including sun exposure, hormones, genetics, and health.
Are moles dangerous?
For the most part, moles are rather harmless. People can go their entire lives without their moles causing any worry.
Unfortunately, not all moles are benign. Moles can be an early indication of melanoma.
If you have developed melanoma, it is important that you take action as soon as possible. Early detection is essential for receiving the most effective treatments.
How can I tell if a mole is dangerous?
Although everyone’s body is different, there are some signs you can look for that would indicate if a mole is cancerous.
- Appear after the age of 25: New moles appearing on your body (especially during pregnancy or puberty) are to be expected. Moles that suddenly develop as you get older are more likely to be cancerous.
- Irregular appearance: Moles that are asymmetrical or have an odd, inconsistent coloration are more likely to be dangerous.
- Rapidly changing: If you experience significant changes in mole size or shape (especially in a relatively short duration of time) you should contact your doctor.
- Cause discomfort: For the most part, you shouldn’t actively feel or notice your moles. If your mole begins to bleed, ooze, itch, or become painful for seemingly no reason, it may indicate a medical problem.
Recognizing the difference between a benign and cancerous mole by examination alone isn’t as easy as it seems, especially to the untrained eye.
When should I see a doctor?
If your mole falls under one or more of the latter categories, you should seek medical advice.
The only way to definitively determine if a mole is cancerous is through lab analyses.
If a doctor has concerns over your mole, they will likely suggest a small surgical procedure.
Surgical excisions or surgical shaves are the most popular techniques used by dermatologists to safely remove unwanted moles.
In both cases, surgical instruments will be used to cut the target tissues from your body.
Following the removal, the tissue will be further evaluated under a microscope to determine if you have cancer or a pre-cancerous lesion in need of further treatment.
Even if your doctor doesn’t suggest a surgery, you can still opt to remove a mole. Many individuals choose to remove moles for practical and cosmetic reasons.
In these cases, it is still advised to visit a trained physician to safely remove your mole under medical supervision.
Why can’t I remove my mole myself?
Removing a mole DIY-style is incredibly dangerous. There are serious risks someone undergoing an at-home operation takes on.
Lacking the training and knowledge of how to carry out certain procedures can put you at risk for complications. A major concern is that these procedures will result in tissue disfiguration or a serious infection. Additionally, if your mole was cancer, you would have no way of knowing.
If you would like to have a mole checked or schedule a full body skin examination with Dr. Noah Weisberg or one of his physician assistants please contact our office at 561-775-6011 and one of our team members will be happy to assist you.