Asked by: Leonor Heaney

Can a mole change and not be melanoma?

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Can a common mole turn into melanoma? Yes, but a common mole rarely turns into melanoma, which is the most serious type of skin cancer. Although common moles are not cancerous, people who have more than 50 common moles have an increased chance of developing melanoma (1). Read more

  • Atypical Moles or Melanoma: The ABCDE's [Dermatology]
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Is a changing mole always melanoma?

Are these changes in moles always a sign of skin cancer? No, changing moles do not always equate to skin cancer and most moles are usually harmless. It can be normal for moles to change in number and appearance; some can also disappear over time.

Can non cancerous moles change?

Changes in benign moles

Environmental factors such as exposure to sunlight, and hormonal changes such as going through puberty or pregnancy can cause moles to darken or develop. Therefore, the appearance of moles can change over time. They can change in number and appearance and can also fade away.

Can moles change and be harmless?

Short answer: Yes. “There are normal changes that can occur in moles,” Kohen says. “For example, moles on the face can start out as brown patches, and over time as we grow older, these moles can raise up, lose color and simply become flesh-colored bumps.”

How quickly do melanoma moles change?

Melanoma can grow very quickly. It can become life-threatening in as little as 6 weeks and, if untreated, it can spread to other parts of the body.

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Most frequently asked questions

Is melanoma always dark?

Melanoma often contains shades of brown, black, or tan, but some can be red or pink, such as the one shown here.

Can melanoma go undetected for years?

How long can you have melanoma and not know it? It depends on the type of melanoma. For example, nodular melanoma grows rapidly over a matter of weeks, while a radial melanoma can slowly spread over the span of a decade. Like a cavity, a melanoma may grow for years before producing any significant symptoms.

Can a doctor tell if a mole is cancerous just by looking at it?

Unfortunately, you can't tell by looking at a mole whether it's cancerous or what type it is. It could very well be a normal skin spot with an abnormal appearance. A dermatologist can't always tell the difference either.

Are crusty moles always cancerous?

Another concern regarding scabbing is if you have a scab that won't seem to heal. Not all scabby moles are cancerous. But scabby moles can be cancerous. For this reason, it's important to get them checked out if you can't trace the scabbing to a known skin injury.

What percentage of suspicious moles are cancerous?

A study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology suggests around 7% of suspicious mole removal is cancerous. This number drops when accounting for all moles removed, as most are benign (non-cancerous).



Atypical Moles or Melanoma: The ABCDE's [Dermatology]

What does Stage 1 melanoma look like?

Stage I melanoma is no more than 1.0 millimeter thick (about the size of a sharpened pencil point), with or without an ulceration (broken skin). There is no evidence that Stage I melanoma has spread to the lymph tissues, lymph nodes, or body organs.

Can atypical moles look like melanoma?

Atypical moles are very similar to melanoma: both are asymmetrical, multicolored, have an irregular border, and can grow over time. While not all atypical moles are precancerous moles, they can become cancerous moles or melanoma.

Is it normal for moles to change shape?

Changes in the size, shape, color, or feel of a mole are often the first warning signs of melanoma. These changes can occur in an existing mole, or melanoma may appear as a new or unusual-looking mole. The "ABCDE" rule is helpful in remembering the warning signs of melanoma: Asymmetry.

What percentage of new moles are melanoma?

It is suggested that only about 20-30% of melanomas arise from within pre-existing moles. This means that the vast majority of melanomas—70-80%—arise as new, abnormal spots on normal skin, and it also underscores why removing atypical moles would not be enough to prevent cancer.

Is melanoma smooth or rough?

Border: This is likely to be irregular rather than smooth and may appear ragged, notched, or blurred. Color: Melanomas tend to contain uneven shades and colors, including black, brown, and tan. They may even contain white or blue pigmentation. Diameter: Melanoma can cause a change in the size of a mole.

Is melanoma raised or flat?

The most common type of melanoma usually appears as a flat or barely raised lesion with irregular edges and different colours. Fifty per cent of these melanomas occur in preexisting moles.

What is considered early detection of melanoma?

Early melanomas often have uneven borders. They may even have scalloped or notched edges. Common moles are usually a single shade of brown or black. Early melanomas are often varied shades of brown, tan or black.

What percentage of biopsied moles are melanoma?

Lab testing showed that more than 90 percent of biopsied moles were completely removed by using the single procedure, with 11 (7 percent) diagnosed as melanoma, one of the most aggressive forms of skin cancer.

What does Stage 1 melanoma mean?

In Stage I melanoma, the cancer cells are in both the first and second layers of the skin—the epidermis and the dermis. A melanoma tumor is considered Stage I if it is up to 2 mm thick, and it may or may not have ulceration. There is no evidence the cancer has spread to lymph nodes or distant sites (metastasis).

Does melanoma grow slowly?

It might slowly get bigger over several years and might change shape or colour. If it becomes a lentigo maligna melanoma, it starts to grow down into the deeper layers of the skin and may form lumps (nodules).

Can melanoma lie dormant?

These studies show that in both uveal and cutaneous disseminated melanoma, cells can remain dormant for longer than a decade, and when they emerge from dormancy they almost invariably are resistant to therapy and fatal.

What looks like melanoma but isn t?

Share on Pinterest Seborrheic keratosis can look like melanoma but are noncancerous skin growths. Seborrheic keratoses are harmless skin growths that often appear as the skin ages.

Can melanoma be flat and pink?

The primary symptom of amelanotic melanoma is an unusual skin growth. Unlike pigmented melanoma, however, amelanotic melanomas are often very faint. They may be pink or red.

How can you tell if a spot is cancerous?

Redness or new swelling beyond the border of a mole. Color that spreads from the border of a spot into surrounding skin. Itching, pain, or tenderness in an area that doesn't go away or goes away then comes back. Changes in the surface of a mole: oozing, scaliness, bleeding, or the appearance of a lump or bump.

When should a mole be biopsied?

When you notice a concerning rash or mole on your skin, the body's largest organ, it's a good idea to see a dermatologist to have it evaluated. Sometimes after checking the area, your dermatologist may recommend a skin biopsy. Skin biopsies are an important part of verifying a diagnosis.