Moles

Taking the worry out of common ‘beauty marks’

Moles are very common, and the vast majority are harmless. A mole is an accumulation of melanocytes (pigment cells in the skin) that can occur normally on many parts of the body. Moles vary in size and color, but tend to be round or oval, symmetrical and have even borders.

Moles continue to develop on most adults until about the age of 50. In children and younger adults, the appearance of a new mole should not cause alarm unless it is significantly different than any other mole on the skin. After age 50, new moles are less common and some existing moles may even fade away.

Overview

Moles continue to develop on most adults until about the age of 50. In children and younger adults, the appearance of a new mole should not cause alarm unless it is significantly different than any other mole on the skin. After age 50, new moles are less common and some existing moles may even fade away.

IU Health Dermatologists can help you distinguish between ordinary moles and those that may be at risk for melanoma.

Examination and Biopsy

During an office visit, you will undergo close examination of new moles. If any look abnormal, your physician may take a tissue sample, or biopsy. You will then come back at regular intervals to monitor for signs of possible cancer that may develop over time.

Mole Removal

You may elect to have unwanted moles removed for cosmetic reasons, or to prevent damage to specific moles. This includes moles that appear on highly visible areas, such as the face, or moles that are in a location where they can be easily damaged. Mole removal is generally a minor procedure that takes place during an office visit. The mole is either cut out or shaved off. You will be provided with care instructions for the wound.

Body Mapping

If you have a large number of moles, a picture of your entire body is taken in order to keep track of the size, color and shape of your moles, and to make accurate observations over time.

Moles and Cancer

If you are diagnosed with melanoma, treatment takes place immediately. Melanoma can progress rapidly, so the earlier you detect it, the better.

  • If you are over 50 and notice a new mole, watch it for signs that may indicate melanoma.
  • Melanocytes can also be damaged and become malignant (cancerous), but this happens to a very small number of normal moles.
  • People with 50 or more moles on their body are at higher risk for melanoma, but a large number of moles does not mean that you will develop melanoma.

Treatment

IU Health Dermatologists can help you distinguish between ordinary moles and those that may be at risk for melanoma.

Examination and Biopsy

During an office visit, you will undergo close examination of new moles. If any look abnormal, your physician may take a tissue sample, or biopsy. You will then come back at regular intervals to monitor for signs of possible cancer that may develop over time.

Mole Removal

You may elect to have unwanted moles removed for cosmetic reasons, or to prevent damage to specific moles. This includes moles that appear on highly visible areas, such as the face, or moles that are in a location where they can be easily damaged. Mole removal is generally a minor procedure that takes place during an office visit. The mole is either cut out or shaved off. You will be provided with care instructions for the wound.

Body Mapping

If you have a large number of moles, a picture of your entire body is taken in order to keep track of the size, color and shape of your moles, and to make accurate observations over time.

Moles and Cancer

If you are diagnosed with melanoma, treatment takes place immediately. Melanoma can progress rapidly, so the earlier you detect it, the better.

  • If you are over 50 and notice a new mole, watch it for signs that may indicate melanoma.
  • Melanocytes can also be damaged and become malignant (cancerous), but this happens to a very small number of normal moles.
  • People with 50 or more moles on their body are at higher risk for melanoma, but a large number of moles does not mean that you will develop melanoma.

Patient Stories for Moles

National Cancer Institute

This national government website features in-depth information about moles and other skin growths. It includes pictures that you can compare with moles on your skin.

Resources

National Cancer Institute

This national government website features in-depth information about moles and other skin growths. It includes pictures that you can compare with moles on your skin.