Skin Cancer – Atypical Moles
If you are having any symptoms or have any questions, please call 811 to speak with a registered nurse 24 hours a day.
What are atypical moles?
Atypical moles are skin growths that are usually bigger than 6 mm wide (about the size of a pencil eraser). They have an irregular shape and borders that are not well defined and that can fade into the skin. Atypical moles can be more than 2 different s (often different shades of brown).
Although atypical moles can sometimes look like a type of skin cancer melanoma, they are benign (not cancerous).
Should I worry if I have an atypical mole?
People who have a lot of atypical moles have a higher risk of developing melanoma, especially if they also have family members who have had melanoma.
An atypical mole can become cancerous. If you have an atypical mole, have your healthcare provider examine it. They may remove the mole or have it checked for melanoma or other types of skin cancer. Most atypical moles do not need to be removed.
What can I do to protect myself?
Protect your skin from the sun. If you are going to spend time outdoors, plan to stay out of the sun from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., when the sun is strongest. Wear a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses and sunscreen. Use sunscreen that is SPF 30 or higher, and reapply it every 2 hours. You can also wear protective clothing (for example, long sleeves and long pants). Never use a tanning bed.
Watch your skin for new moles or any changes in your moles. If you have a mole that bleeds or itches, contact your healthcare provider right away. Also contact your healthcare provider if a mole changes in size, shape or , or if becomes scaly or crusty.
See your healthcare provider regularly for skin checks. Your healthcare provider should examine your skin at least once a year.
Atypical Moles by Peggy R. Cyr, MD (09/15/08, http://www.aafp.org/afp/20080915/735.html)