A dermatologist speaks about strange or weird looking moles.
Have you discovered a funny looking mole on your body and wonder if it’s melanoma?
The aggravating thing about finding a strange looking spot is when you’ve never done a skin exam for cancer before, and thus, you have no idea if the “birth mark” has always looked funny.
So now, you study the strange mole every day, wondering if it’s in the process of changing.
“Generally speaking, when moles have the following qualities, it can raise a concern for melanoma,” says Andrea Cambio, MD, board certified dermatologic surgeon, and medical director of Cambio Dermatology in Florida.
Asymmetry. One half of the lesion does not match the other in terms of color, size or shape.
Border irregularity. The border is jagged, scalloped, notched or not smooth, or “bleeds” into the surrounding skin.
Color variation. It has different shades of blue, black, brown or red.
Diameter. Greater than that of a pencil eraser (6 mm).
Evolving. It is changing; it may be crusting, bleeding, itching, elevating, changing colors or getting darker (or lighter).
What if you’re viewing a funny looking mole for the first time? Has it always been that way? What did it look like a year ago? Was it even there a year ago?
What should you do?
Live in fear for the next few months as you keep an eye on the strange looking mole, wondering if it’s in the process of evolving?
Dr. Cambio explains, “Any mole can have one or more of these qualities and still be benign. A board-certified dermatologist is skilled at evaluating moles.”
If the spot appears suspicious to the physician, “it may need to be removed and sent for biopsy to differentiate a benign mole from a pre-cancerous or cancerous one.”
For peace of mind, it’s perfectly okay to request that the spot be biopsied. This can be a partial biopsy or removal of the entire lesion.
Don’t worry about scarring; it’s negligible and may be less noticeable than the pigmented growth that was removed.
A dermatologist may feel very certain that a strange mole is benign, but remember, absolute proof of this can only come from a biopsy.
Dr. Cambio adds, “The more atypical (dysplastic) moles an individual has, the more likely they are to develop a melanoma in their lifetime.” These are funny or “ugly” moles that typically appear on a person’s back.
Dr. Cambio has extensive training and experience in all aspects of adult and pediatric dermatology, laser, skin cancer, dermatologic surgery and cosmetic dermatology.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.