Moles develop on the skin due to the growth of clusters of pigment cells—also known as melanocytes. They usually occur on regions that are exposed to the sun.

The science behind why we develop moles isn’t well understood, but they’re thought to occur due to genetic factors and sun damage in most cases. Most of them are less than ¼ inch in diameter and can develop in colors ranging from pink and brown to black. It’s common for adults to have 10 to 40 moles.

Moles are usually harmless, but one must be concerned if a mole develops during adulthood, or if an old one changes its size or color because; this could indicate that it’s cancerous.

Let’s take a look at the underlying mechanisms that lead to the formation of abnormal moles which might lead to skin cancer.

The melanoma: a cancerous mole

The presence of melanoma can cause complications in moles. Some infants are born with melanoma, while others develop it if there’s a history in the family. Every year, about 2 in 10,000 people develop melanoma in the United States. Melanoma is potentially dangerous because it has the ability to invade nearby tissues and spread to other parts of the body.

Most types of melanoma develop on the surface of the skin, but rare cases have been found in the eye, digestive tract and other areas of the body. Individuals with dark skin are less likely to develop melanoma compared to people with fair skin.

What does a melanoma look like?

One of the first signs of melanoma is a change in the shape, color, feel and size of an existing mole—it’s usually 6 millimeters in diameter with an asymmetrical shape and uneven color.

The ABCDE rule describes the features of an early melanoma, which include asymmetry, a border that’s irregular, color that’s uneven, diameter that’s increased, and the evolving of the mole over the past few days or months.

In addition to that, if the texture of the mole changes or it appear to look scraped, hard, lumpy, and feels itchy or oozes, it could also be one of the symptoms of melanoma.

What should you do?

Early detection of melanoma can improve the chances of survival by 93 percent. The best option for people who notice the features highlighted by the ABCDE matrix in their mole is to visit a skin specialist and get the mole checked.

The dermatologist will evaluate the mole by performing a biopsy and then come to a conclusion about whether a simple procedure where the mole is removed would suffice.

The removal of cancerous moles is necessary so that the spread of cancer can be stopped in its tracks. Other ways to avoid development of abnormal moles is to use sunscreen on a daily basis and avoid artificial tanning equipment.

Looking for a skin specialist and dermatologist in Lawrenceville, GA? Head over to Southern Dermatology and book a consultation with Dr. W. Derrick Moody. Our services included mole removal, chemical peels and laser hair removal treatments.