What are moles?
The proper term for moles that are melanocytic, meaning consisting of melanocytes, is naevus.
Moles are collections of pigment producing cells (known as melanocytes) that reside towards the top layer of the skin.
Moles generally can be flesh-coloured, brown, blue or black. The majority of moles on skin are flat but raised moles are commonly seen.
Why do moles occur?
Moles are a natural part of skin development and are influenced by genetics and sun exposure.
When do moles develop?
Some moles are present at birth.
The majority of moles, however, develop during our childhood and young adulthood.
We continue to develop new moles on our skin in our 30’s and 40’s.
Do moles change normally?
Moles are made up of living cells called melanocytes.
They may respond to sunlight and UV exposure by producing more melanin, making them darker with sun exposure.
They can also respond to hormonal changes in puberty, pregnancy and sometimes hormonal therapy.
These changes are generally very small, uniform and apply to all nearby moles at the same time.
What do moles look like?
Moles can develop anywhere on the skin.
Their locations can influence their appearance.
This is important when trying to differentiate a normal mole from a cancerous mole.
Moles can have a variety of appearance
Blue mole on scalp
Mole on palm
Raised mole on neck
Typical mole on calf
Acral mole on foot
When is a mole cancerous?
A cancerous mole is also known as a melanoma, one of the most aggressive forms of skin cancers.
A cancerous mole (melanoma) can arise from a previously “normal” mole or as a new growth on the skin.
What do I look for in a suspicious mole?
An abnormal mole may be a melanoma.
Melanoma arises from growths of
melanocytes. They can change by multiplying their number of cells, and growing in abnormal arrangements.
also change by producing more pigment therefore becoming darker.
produce pigment and do not have dark pigmentation.
I have a lot of moles. Should I be concerned?
The more moles you have, the higher the risk of melanoma.
It means that your melanocytes have the right genetics to grow.
It may also be due to exposure to excessive sunlight during the early childhood years.
You should therefore avoid excessive sun exposure and in particular sunburn.
It may be much harder for you to monitor the moles by yourself. You should consider having regular mole checks.
I have noticed a change in a mole
This is the time to seek an expert opinion on the mole, such as from a skin cancer doctor or a dermatologist.
The mole should be examined with a technique called dermoscopy in a comprehensive skin cancer check.
Basal Cell Carcinoma
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Skin Check WA