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Moles: What to Watch for and When to See a Doctor

Doctor, dermatologist, hands examines a birthmark of patient. Checking benign moles

If you’re sporting a mole, you’re certainly not alone. Nearly everyone has at least one and most have between 10 and 40 by age 20. Plus, moles can increase in number and darken with sun exposure and pregnancy. Most moles are harmless, but some can be a warning sign of cancer.

Depending on its appearance and when it developed, a mole can be classified as one of three primary types:

  • Congenital moles are present at birth. About 1 percent of people have congenital moles, and these moles may be at increased risk of turning into skin cancer.
  • Acquired moles are the most prevalent and typically develop during childhood or early adulthood. They’re usually smaller than a quarter inch in diameter and are thought to be due to excessive sun exposure. Most acquired moles will not develop into skin cancer.
  • Atypical moles generally are larger than congenital or acquired moles and have an irregular shape. They’re typically uneven in color with a dark brown center surrounded by a lighter or reddish color and often have black dots around the edge. Atypical moles tend to run in families and they may be at a higher risk of developing into skin cancer.

Moles that are warning signs of skin cancer, particularly melanoma, the deadliest form, typically are asymmetric with irregular borders, have varying colors, are large in diameter and change in size, shape or color over time. Be sure to check your skin regularly for moles with these characteristics, nor new moles (particularly after age 20) and for itchy, painful or bleeding moles.

Again, most moles are harmless. But getting a suspicious mole checked quickly may make a life-or-death difference. If you have any inkling of concern, see a doctor as soon as possible, as cancer is most treatable in its earliest stages. Whether cosmetic or potentially cancer-causing, Metropolitan Dermatology can easily diagnose and remove moles from your skin. Call today to schedule a consultation at our Clark, Kearny, Teaneck, Jersey City or Staten Island location.

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Cosmetic, Medical & Surgical Dermatology

Metropolitan Dermatology Locations

1075 Central Avenue
Clark, NJ 07066
Clark NJ location servicing Edison, Westfield, Elizabeth, Linden, Scotch Plains, & Cranford, NJ

757 Teaneck Road
Teaneck, NJ 07666
Teaneck NJ location servicing Hackensack, Fort Lee, Fair Lawn, Englewood, and Bergenfield, NJ.

703 Kearny Ave.
Kearny, NJ 07032
Kearny NJ location servicing Jersey City, Nutley, North Arlington, Lyndhurst, and Hoboken, NJ. *Formerly 752 Kearny

1324 Victory Boulevard
Staten Island, NY 10301
Staten Island NY location servicing all of New York City!

3202 John F Kennedy Blvd.
Jersey City, NJ 07306
Jersey City, NJ location servicing Jersey City and Newark.

114 Lakeview Avenue
South Plainfield, NJ 07080
South Plainfield, NJ location servicing Plainfield and Edison.

449 60th St.
West New York, NJ 07093
West New York NJ location servicing Union City, Bayonne, North Bergen, Hoboken, & Secaucus NJ

469 Morris Ave. Ste 2
Elizabeth, NJ 07208
Elizabeth, NJ location servicing Elizabeth, Linden, Roselle Park and Hillside.

622 Boulevard
Kenilworth, NJ 07033
Kenilworth, NJ location servicing Springfield Township, Union, and Mountainside.