Moles, medically termed Melanocytic nevuses, are changes in the skin and mucous tissue which are comprised from clusters of cells that carry a pigment – melanocyte.
There are numerous types of moles, different in appearance. Moles can vary in color, shape, size and number depending on genetic predisposition, some of them are present from birth and some appear during lifetime under various influences. Also, the number of moles is directly proportionate to the degree of exposure to the UV rays and the number of times a person has gotten burnt in the Sun. Most of the moles are harmless, but in rare cases a mole can grow into a carcinoma called melanoma.
The vast majority of population thinks that moles “mustn’t be touched” and that persons who have removed their moles have died from it later. That is one of the biggest fallacies and the main cause why patients go to a dermatologist examination and mole removal intervention too late.
Most of the moles we have during our lifetime don’t change. Sometimes a regular white circle forms around the mole and it spontaneously disappears – this occurrence is called nevus. In some people new moles appear even after the age of twenty, especially after longer sunbathing. If there is a doubt that the mole cells are changeing, a dermatoscopic examination is necessary and after that and intervention of removing moles with a mandatory pathohistological analysis - dermoscopy.
Dermoscopy is a separate new branch of medicine which uses a special apparatus – dermatoscope, to differentiate regular structures of the mole from those that appear in carcinoma, a malignant melanoma.
What are the risk factors in a mole?
If moles are present in very large number on the skin, they are a risk factor for melanoma occurrence. In people who have over 20 moles, a complete avoidance of and protection from the Sun is advised, periodical self examination of moles and examinations once a year at a dermatologist specialist with dermatoscopy, for prompt detection of changes on the mole and timely removal. Melanoma, the most malignant skin carcinoma, develops on the already existing mole in 30% of the cases, and therefore it is necessary to report to the doctor if a change in shape, color and edge of the mole, or some part of the mole rises. This carcinoma is one of the rare ones which is possible to treat completely with surgical removal of the mole.
Is it recommended to remove the mole?
Yes. Although there is a widespread opinion that moles mustn’t be touched, early detection of changes in the mole and timely removal of the changed mole is the only sure way to prevent the occurrence of melanoma.
Spec. Dr. Svetlana Djurisic, dermatologist
Dermatological clinic DERMATIM, Belgrade - Serbia