What Does a Cancerous Mole Look Like?

Mole Removal Memphis

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Most of us recognize the small, dark skin spots known as moles. These clusters of pigment-producing cells can occur anywhere on the body, and many people barely notice them. In some cases, this harmless spot can develop into a cancerous mole. If this happens, you may see some warning signs that can alert you to seek treatment early. 

What are Cancerous Moles?

Most people have at least a few moles. These pigmented spots develop from clusters of melanocytes, the cells that produce melanin in the skin. In most cases, they cause no harm, but in some cases, they can start to grow abnormally and become cancerous. 

Cancer of these melanin-producing cells is called melanoma, the most invasive type of skin cancer. Early diagnosis and treatment can stop melanoma from spreading. You should recognize the signs of an abnormal mole so you can have it treated as soon as possible. 

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What Does a Cancerous Mole Look Like?

Most normal moles do not change much in appearance or size over time. They remain small and have smooth borders. Cancerous moles often show signs of abnormal growth. The “ABCDE” method is widely used to help people know if a mole should cause concern.  


Normal moles are generally symmetrical in shape. Cancerous moles can look asymmetrical and irregular. They may also have texture changes.


Cancerous moles may begin to expand, leading to irregular borders. Most normal moles generally have smooth borders. 


Moles can come in many colors, including brown, bluish, red, pink, or white. A normal mole may appear in any of these colors, but it should not look mottled or have multiple colors. 


A mole that becomes cancerous may grow in size. A dermatologist should check moles larger than a pencil eraser (about 6mm). 


Normal moles usually stay the same shape, size, and color. You should note any moles that seem to be noticeably changing in any way. 

How are Cancerous Moles Treated?

If your dermatologist diagnoses a cancerous mole, they will often treat it using a surgical procedure called excision. The mole is removed along with the surrounding tissue. Your dermatologist sends this to pathology to ensure all the cancerous cells have been removed. Catching cancerous moles early makes it more likely that they can be removed this way. 

How Often Should I Get a Screening for Cancerous Moles?

We recommend skin cancer screenings once a year for most people. We may recommend more frequent screenings if you have certain risk factors, such as unusual moles we want to monitor, a family history of melanoma, or a history of tanning bed use. 

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To learn more about cancerous moles, please schedule your consultation by either filling out the form on this page or by calling Levy Dermatology at (901) 624-3333. Levy Dermatology serves patients in the Memphis, Jackson & Collierville, TN areas

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