Mole Screenings & Removal
Regular mole screenings are an important part of an individual's healthcare routine and are important in identifying those occurrences which could be an early indication of an increased risk of skin cancer. An experienced dermatologist is your first line of defense in making sure any signs of skin cancer are caught early when treatment is most effective. Whether you are considering a mole removal for cosmetic or medical reasons, contact Metropolitan Dermatology for a consultation with a board certified dermatologist.
Most people have at least a few moles - typically brownish, raised spots that can appear just about anywhere on the body. Most of these are called "common" moles, and are completely harmless. But some can be an indication of an increased risk of skin cancer, and some may actually be cancerous. Some may be melanoma, which the most dangerous type of cancer where early detection can be life-saving. So having all skin lesions screened and evaluated by an experienced dermatologist is an important part of maintaining good skin health.
There are several different types, including:
- Atypical moles - These are often odd-shaped and may look very similar to a melanoma, but are typically harmless. However, people with a large number of moles (more than 50) including atypical types may have an increased risk of melanoma as well as an increased risk of pancreatic cancer.
- Congenital moles - These are nevi that you're born with. About one percent of the population has a congenital mole. While a few may be harmless, children with extremely large ones have a higher risk of melanoma.
- Acquired moles - These are moles that appear after you're born and occur most often in those with light skin. More than 50 indicate an increased risk for melanoma.
Signs and Symptoms
Keeping an eye on moles is good practice to watch for changes that could indicate a cancerous condition. Here's what to watch for - moles that:
- Have multiple colors
- Have irregular shape or edges
- Sudden change in appearance
- Become itchy, painful or begin to ooze
Moles can appear anywhere - even between your toes and under your nails.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Most moles do not require any medical treatments. Common types typically will only be removed if the patient finds them unattractive or if they become irritated from rubbing against clothing.
When a nevus is thought to be cancerous, the mole usually will be removed in your doctor's office, either by cutting it out or shaving it off. Once the lesion is removed, it will be evaluated for signs of skin cancer.
Outcomes and Follow-up
When a mole is determined to be cancerous, the dermatologist who evaluates the affected area will be able to tell if the edges or margins are clear of cancerous cells. When the results indicate a margin that is not clear, additional excision using Mohs micrographic surgery is usually necessary to precisely remove the remaining cells.
Once a mole is removed, your dermatologist will keep an eye on the area to see if it returns, which is a sign that cancerous cells were left behind. Be sure to have regular follow-ups to keep an eye on other skin lesions and blemishes you may have. Don't take unnecessary chances with your health. Contact the Metropolitan Dermatology office nearest you in Clark, Kearny, Teaneck and Staten Island for a thorough mole screening.