Mole Detection and Treatment Options


Moles are a common occurrence on the skin, and most of them are benign. However, these concentrated spots of melanin are also the top sign of potential skin cancer. There are many types of skin cancers, including the deadliest of all skin cancers—melanoma. Although not all skin cancer cases include irregular moles as a symptom, the vast majority do. It is important for everyone to consider the ABCDEs of moles, which include lack of Asymmetry, Border irregularity, Color that isn’t uniform, Diameter that is larger than the head of a pencil eraser, and size that Evolves. However, most people cannot see all of their moles, and the moles they can gauge are seen on a regular basis. Familiarity makes it difficult to tell if a mole has changed.

The best way to prevent skin cancer and to catch it early is through an annual mole check with a dermatologist. Consider this annual skin check just as important as seeing your physician or dentist regularly. Only a dermatologist can truly know whether a mole is suspicious and should be biopsied. At Spectrum Dermatology, Mohs surgery is available for most mole removals. This combines a biopsy with on-site lab testing for immediate results and minimal scarring.

Most people have moles. They can be raised or flat, and although most are brown, they can vary somewhat in color. Moles can appear anywhere on the body, but usually occur in areas with regular sun exposure. It is also common, and usually safe, for additional moles to develop throughout a person’s life. Those with fair skin and excessive sun exposure usually have more moles. There is also a genetic component to mole development. However, it is also these people—particularly those with over 100 moles—who are at the highest risk of developing skin cancer.

Precancerous or Cancerous Moles

There are two types of moles that should be removed and biopsied: precancerous and cancerous moles. All moles should be evaluated and tracked by a dermatologist to determine if they are changing in a dangerous pattern. Those with over 20 moles are at a higher risk of having atypical or irregular moles. These moles might not necessarily turn into cancer, but they have a higher possibility of doing so than “normal” moles. Removing atypical moles dramatically decreases your risk of developing skin cancer in the future.

Skin should be examined at home at least once per month. Ideally, you should also have a trusted person examine parts of your body where you can’t easily see moles, such as your back. Those with a family history of skin cancer, particularly melanoma, need to be especially vigilant with professional and home checks.

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Mole Removal: Medical vs. Cosmetic

There are two types of mole removal procedures: medical and cosmetic. However, the process of removing moles is the same. Even when a mole that looks perfectly healthy is removed for cosmetic reasons, it needs to be biopsied. There is a very small chance the mole could be cancerous or precancerous. If this is the case, removing it without a biopsy puts you at a high risk of removing the symptom of skin cancer.

Medical mole removal is usually covered by insurance providers, while cosmetic removals are not. However, the biopsy requirement of mole removal may mean that an insurance plan will cover any type of mole removal. Always check with your provider first.

Removing Moles

There are many ways to remove a mole, including a “punch,” burning the mole, a shave excision with a scalpel, and excisional surgery. Punches and burning of the mole are seldomly used procedures. A shave excision is common for most moles. This procedure requires a dermatologist to numb the area before using a scalpel to remove the mole. It is best for smaller moles and no sutures are required.

An excisional surgery might be required for larger moles. This can be done with a scalpel or punch. Sutures will be required to ensure proper healing and minimal scarring. All procedures are quick and painless. For those undergoing Mohs surgery, numbing creams and topical anesthetics will be used to sustain patient comfort.

Contact Spectrum Dermatology

Spectrum Dermatology is one of the few clinics in the region to offer Mohs surgery. For your cosmetic or medical mole removal needs, depend on experts who put patient safety and comfort as top priorities. You can contact Spectrum Dermatology today to schedule your consultation or appointment. Call one of our six Phoenix and Scottsdale offices at (480) 948-8400.