Naples Dermatology PA
4085 Tamiami Trail North Suite B203, Naples. FL, 34103
Dr. Scott A. Ross MD
Board Certified Dermatologist
Fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology
Atypical or Abnormal Moles (Nevi) are unusual-looking benign (noncancerous) moles, also known as dysplastic nevi (the plural of “nevus,” or mole). Atypical moles may resemble melanoma, and people who have them may be at increased risk of developing melanoma in a mole or elsewhere on the body. The higher the number of these moles someone has, the higher the risk.
Heredity appears to play a part in the formation of atypical moles. They tend to run in families, especially in Caucasians - about 5% of Caucasians have them. Those who have atypical moles plus a family history of melanoma (two or more close blood relatives with the disease) have a very high risk of developing melanoma. People who have atypical moles, but no family history of melanoma, are also at higher risk of developing melanoma compared with the general population. So are those with 50 or more normal moles. All of these high-risk individuals should practice rigorous daily sun protection, perform a monthly skin self-examination head to toe and seek regular professional skin exams.
How to spot an Atypical Mole
NORMAL MOLES are common small brown spots or growths on the skin that appear in the first few decades of life in almost everyone. They can be either flat or elevated and are generally round and regularly shaped. Many are induced by sun exposure.
MELANOMA, one of the deadliest forms of skin cancer, most often appears as an asymmetrical, irregularly bordered, multicolored or tan/brown spot or growth that continues to increase in size over time. It may begin as a flat spot and become more elevated. In rare instances, it may be amelanotic, meaning it does not have any of the skin pigment (melanin) that typically turns a mole or melanoma brown, black or other dark colors. In these cases, it may be pink, red, or appear normal in color.
Physicians can often identify an atypical mole by the same classic “ABCDE” characteristics used to identify a possible melanoma:
Other factors besides the ABCDEs may also indicate an atypical mole: