Why Remove Moles?


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Moles are also known as nevi and are clusters of cells that contain pigment darker than the surrounding skin. They can appear as small dark brown spots but they come in a range of colors and can develop virtually anywhere on the body. Moles happen when the skin cells called melanocytes, those cells which contain pigment, grow in a cluster. They are usually pink, tan, brown or a flesh colored.

Most people have between 10 and 40 moles on their bodies and are very common. The majority of moles develop from childhood until the mid-20s by a person can develop new ones around the age of 40. They can be flat or raised but are usually round or oval in configuration and no larger than a pencil eraser. As the years progressed some may flatten and become flesh colored and go away.

If moles are so common and usually benign why is it so important that we all do scan checks every six months and have new moles or changes in our moles evaluated by our physician?

While moles may be common they are not always benign. In fact all moles which an individual has had from childhood can change as they grow older to become dysplastic nevi or even melanoma. Especially for individuals who spend time in the sun it is an important step to monitor their skin, moles and other pigmented patches for early signs of malignant melanoma. Not all melanomas developed from pre-existing moles but many do began either in or near all moles or dark pigmented spot on the skin.

About one out of every 10 persons has at least one unusual moles that looks different from an ordinary mole. These are called in dysplastic nevi and are more likely to develop into a type of skin cancer called melanoma. Because of this moles should be checked regularly by a doctor or nurse practitioner to monitor for skin changes which may indicate the need for a biopsy.

There are reasons why a moles should be removed but they do not apply to all moles. For the most part, individuals have between 10 and 40 moles across their body but there are those individuals who can have up to 100 or greater. In these cases it is especially important for individuals to monitor their skin for changes.

Doctors and nurse practitioners will look for changes in the appearance of the mole in order to determine if a skin biopsy is necessary. These changes can include a whole which suddenly increases in the size or suddenly appears. Moles who are a mixture of many colors including black is more suggestive of melanoma. Moles that have been irregular border or abnormal surface or have an unusual sensation are also reasons to be evaluated by your primary care physician.

Only your primary care physician can determine with an effective degree of accuracy that the mole requires a skin biopsy. In these cases, because of the size of the area being evaluated, they may determine to take off the entire thing during the biopsy without having the individual undergo to procedures.

Some individuals and physicians will choose to have moles removed when they appears utterly even if their appearance is not unusual. Whenever the choice of the individual and the physician it is important that the removal of all mole is done under the proper setting and in a situation in which the tissue can be sent to a pathologist for further review. A review by a pathologist will help to increase the chances of early diagnosis of melanoma and therefore early treatment.

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