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What are Moles?

Moles usually harmless, and nearly all adults have at least a couple of them on their skin. These skin spots are caused by melanocyte cells in the skin. While some are born with pigmented lesions, others develop them over time due to changing hormones, aging, or exposure to the sun.

Common types of pigmented spots and moles include:

  • “Age” Spots: Small, flat, dark areas of the skin that show up on areas that are commonly exposed to the sun.
  • Nevi/Moles: Common pigmented skin lesions that develop throughout adulthood.

Although rare, some moles may develop into different forms of skin cancer. Therefore, it is very important to monitor them closely, as well as to visit your dermatologist for annual skin checks. If either you or your dermatologist notice a change in the colour, diameter, size, or growth of mole, a biopsy may be needed to determine if skin cancer is present.

How Can I Tell if My Mole is Cancerous?

There are a few signs that you should look for when assessing a suspicious-looking mole. These include the ABCDE warning signs of cancer:

Asymmetry: Look for moles that are asymmetrical, meaning that one side is different than the other.
Border: Irregular, jagged, or rough borders of a mole is a warning sign.
Colour: Moles that have unusual colors or multiple colors should be checked by a professional.
Diameter: Moles that are larger than a pencil eraser should be assessed.
Evolution: If you have a mole that has evolved in any way over time be sure to have it checked out.

Treatment of Noncancerous Moles or Skin Tags

If you have a noncancerous mole or skin tag that is bothersome, there are multiple removal techniques that can be employed. These include surgical excision, in which the area will be numbed, and a scalpel will be used to cut the mole or skin tag; or a surgical shave, in which a small blade will be used to shave off the mole or skin tag and some tissue beneath it.