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FAQ Frequently asked questions
What is a mole?
A mole is a very common type of skin growth that can occur anywhere on the body. Moles can be flat or raised and sometimes have hair growing from them. Quite often, moles are circular or oval in shape with smooth edges, but they can also have a rough surface or an irregular …
What causes moles?
Moles occur when melanocyte cells in the skin grow together in clusters. Melanocytes produce the brown skin pigment, known as melanin, which gives skin its normal color. On unmarked skin with no growths, melanin travels to the surface of the skin and spreads out evenly …
What does a cancerous mole look like?
It is rare for moles to develop into melanoma, which is a cancer of melanocyte cells in the skin. However, signs of melanoma include changes in size, shape or color of the mole. A melanoma may become itchy or painful, grow quickly, or bleed, ooze or …
Who gets moles?
Moles tend to run in families and are more common in people that have fair skin or spend a lot of time in the sun. They usually appear in their highest numbers between childhood and early adulthood and then tend to fade after the age of 40. If a mole develops after the age …
Are there different types of mole?
There are two main types of mole: common and atypical. Common moles are usually less than five millimeters across and brown, tan or pink in color. They can occur anywhere, but are most often found on the upper body, in areas exposed to sunlight. In …
What happens to moles over time?
Moles are so common that they sometimes tend to be considered normal. For this reason, it's possible to live with a number of moles without any problems. However, they can cause embarrassment or irritation if they are large, raised and hairy, or appear in …
How are moles checked?
Moles are checked by looking closely at the skin and asking questions about medical history. Photos of each mole next to a ruler may also be taken over time to measure any changes. This photo record is sometimes called a mole map. If melanoma is suspected, one or …
Which moles turn into cancer?
The likelihood of developing melanoma is higher in moles that look unusual, particularly if they are larger than six millimeters across, or run in your family. Similarly, the risk is higher for large moles that have been present since birth, or in people with …
About this article
Author: Lauren Donley BSc (Hons)
First answered: 18 Sep 2014
Last reviewed: 19 May 2018
Rating: 4.8 out of 5
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