What are moles?

Moles are normal skin growths. They progressively increase in number over our lifetime and can persist for decades; some may progressively go away (regress) without any treatment. These brown spots are due to grouping of pigmented cells. They have symmetrical shapes, are colored brown or hues thereof, and have clear demarcation with normal skin. Typically, they are smaller than the diameter of a pencil eraser.

What are Melanomas?

Melanomas are cancerous moles – they may have the following appearance:  asymmetrical shape (A), irregularly defined borders (B), abnormal colors (C) including red/blue/back/white , may have larger diameters (D) and look eccentric (E) on side profile. They may grow rapidly and/or develop a sore or open area.

  • These abnormal features are called the ABCDE’s as a simple mnemonic.
  • Spots with any of these features should be checked by your doctor who may further assess these with a special magnifier. A biopsy may be recommended.
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