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What is a Mole?

A mole is a collection of pigmented cells called melanocytes on your skin. Moles can appear alone or in multiples. Most can be present on any part of the body, but they are commonly found on the torso, face, arms and legs.

The number and darkness of your moles may constantly change due to age or sun exposure. Some moles disappear with advancing age.

Moles are usually harmless. They are also called nevi or nevus.

Moles and Skin Cancer

It is important to become familiar with the appearance of your moles. The change of appearance of moles is one of the first signs of skin cancer. Malignant melanoma usually begins in or near a mole or other dark spot on the skin. Melanoma also can arise in areas of normal pigmentation.

What Does a Mole Look Like?

Moles vary in color, shape and size. They can be flesh-colored, brown, blue or black spots that vary in shape from oval to round. The size of a mole can range from as small as a pinhead or large enough to cover an entire limb.

The appearance of the mole may change with age or during a specific stage in life. During adolescence moles may darken and become larger. During pregnancy, women may develop numerous and darker moles.

Moles that are larger than 8 inches in diameter and present at birth may increase the risk of developing skin cancer.

Can a Mole be Removed?

Yes. If the mole increases the risk of cancer or is unpleasant to look at, you can ask your doctor to remove it. The doctor can shave off the mole or remove it by incision.

Moles can also be covered by traditional makeup.

Can Moles be Prevented?

No.

Complications of Moles

In some cases, a mole can become skin cancer.

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