Atypical Moles

Atypical Moles

An annual mole check is a must. MetroDerm, P.C. dermatologists in Atlanta, GA, are experts at detecting abnormal/cancerous moles. Most people have at least 10 moles on their bodies and that’s perfectly normal. Moles are formed when skin cells that produce pigment, melanocytes, group together. There are, however, atypical moles which should be a cause for concern.  It’s important to have your moles checked annually by your MetroDerm, P.C. dermatologist.  Even though these types of lesions are painless, they should be examined immediately if they change in size or color.

Melanoma and Tanning Statistics

  • One person dies of melanoma every hour–actually every 54 minutes.
  • An estimated 87,110 new cases of invasive melanoma will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2017.
  • An estimated 9,730 people will die of melanoma in 2017.
  • Melanoma accounts for less than 1% of skin cancer cases, but the vast majority of skin cancer deaths.
  • The vast majority of melanomas are caused by the sun. In fact, one study found that about 86%  of melanomas can be attributed to exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.
  • Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is a proven human carcinogen. As of September 2, 2014, UV tanning devices were reclassified by the FDA from Class I or low risk to Class II moderate risk devices.

When melanocytes form abnormal moles, they are called atypical moles or dysplastic nevi. These moles are not malignant, but their presence is a warning of a tendency to develop melanoma. Some people have only 1 or 2 atypical moles. Some people may have more than 100. The tendency to develop atypical moles can run in families.

Experts agree on what to look for when it comes to atypical moles, and the ABCDE rule helps you remember what to look for:

  • Asymmetry: 1/2 doesn’t match the other 1/2.
  • Border irregularity: the edges are ragged, notched, or blurred.
  • Color: The pigmentation is not uniform. Shades of tan, brown, and black are present. Dashes of red, white, and blue add to the mottled appearance. Changes in color distribution, especially the spread of color from the edge of a mole into the surrounding skin, are also indicators of early melanoma.
  • Diameter: the size of the mole is larger than ¼”, 6 mm, or about the size of a pencil eraser. Any growth of a mole should be of concern.
  • Evolution: change in the size, shape, symptoms such as itching or tenderness, surface especially bleeding, or color of a mole.

Atypical moles are seen most commonly on the back but may be anywhere on the body including below the waist, scalp, breasts, or buttocks. They may fade into surrounding skin and include a flat portion that is level with the skin surface. They may also be smooth, slightly scaly, or have a rough, irregular, “pebbly” appearance.

The annual mole check is a “must.”  Your dermatologist at MetroDerm, P.C. will check your moles based on their appearance. If a mole changes, the experts at MetroDerm, P.C. will recommend how often they must be observed. Once you know the ABCDE rule, you can be vigilant about the appearance of your moles and atypical moles;  MetroDerm, P.C. has locations convenient to Hiram as well as suburbs like Dunwoody, Roswell, and Alpharetta.