Most people have moles, in fact most white-skinned New Zealanders have around 20-50.
They can appear anywhere on your body -- from your face to your feet. Moles may be flat or protruding, varying in colour from pink or flesh tones to dark brown or black. Although mostly round or oval in shape, they are sometimes unusual shapes. They range in size from a couple of millimetres to several centimetres in diameter.
What are moles?
Moles appear when pigment cells – called melanocytes – grow in clusters instead of spreading throughout the skin. Melanocytes give skin its colour and they can cause moles to darken during teenage years, after sun exposure or during pregnancy. Typically most moles are harmless. However, some moles can be cancerous. The more moles you have, the higher the risk of developing melanoma, especially if you have over 100.
If your mole is asymmetrical, has an irregular border, is different colours, changes size or shape, or has bled, it may be cancerous and we recommend that you see our doctor, who has particular experience in assessing for skin cancer.
Dr O’Leary will carefully examine the mole, using a dermascope, to look at the internal structure of the mole. If Dr O’Leary believes your mole may be a melanoma, he may remove all or part of the lesion to send for microscopic analysis. If the lab results determine that the mole is melanoma they will determine its depth and characteristics and a further procedure may be required the extent of which is determined by international guidelines that have been researched for best outcomes. A scar will always result from this removal procedure but we make every best effort to ensure scarring is minimal.