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Are All Dark Moles Cancerous?

If you’re like most women and men, you probably have about 40 moles scattered over your face and body. In most cases, moles are benign growths composed of clumps of pigment cells.

Nevertheless, as skin cancer remains the No. 1 cancer in the United States, it pays to keep tabs on your moles. Moles that evolve (change) could be cancerous.

At The Center for Dermatology Cosmetic & Laser Surgery in Mount Kisco, New York, our skilled dermatologists offer skin cancer screening and treatment. We also recommend you examine your own moles monthly and contact us if you notice anything new, changing, or unusual.

Are dark moles always cancerous or precancerous? The answer is more complex than that.

Moles that change could be cancerous

Skin cancer is a common cancer, but it’s also highly treatable. In fact, when caught in an early stage, it’s almost always curable. That’s even true of the most deadly skin cancer, melanoma.

We recommend yearly skin cancer screenings at our center so we can examine areas of your skin that aren’t easily visible to you, such as your scalp. However, we also encourage monthly self-exams.

Get familiar with those 40 or more moles on your body so you can recognize one that evolves. Use the ABCDE system to remember what you’re looking for:

Dark moles aren’t necessarily cancerous. In fact, they’re usually benign if they’re dark brown, tan, or black. However, if your dark mole suddenly has other colors in it, too, call us. Other troubling colors for moles — depending on your natural skin tone — might be:

Alert us right away if your moles start to bleed or ooze pus. Large moles, rather than dark moles, are the ones to keep the closest eye on. Large moles are more likely to be cancerous than small ones.

Moles that are unusual could be cancerous

A new warning sign for melanoma is the “ugly duckling” sign. If you look at a cluster of your moles, most resemble one another in size, shape, and color.

An ugly duckling mole, however, looks different from its neighbors. If all your moles are brown or black, but there’s a single light tan mole, it may be an ugly duckling. Similarly, if all your moles are large, but only one is small, it could be an ugly duckling. 

Even a single mole hanging out on its own could be an ugly duckling. If you’ve had it all your life, it may be OK, but let us look at it first. 

Moles that are new could be cancerous

Most of the moles on your body won’t turn into melanoma. However, if you notice a new mole where there wasn’t one before, that’s a troubling sign, and you should let us know. Skin cancer usually grows quickly. The earlier we catch it, the more curable it is.

Are you worried about your moles? Contact us for a skin cancer screening by phone or online form today.

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