top of page

/     Blog

  • Writer's pictureSpeclipse

Can a common mole or a dysplastic nevus become melanoma?

Moles are a normal part of life. Normal adults can have up to 40 harmless, common moles, usually in areas exposed to the sun. That said, they are rarely found on the scalp, breasts, or buttocks.

Although moles are often non-cancerous, having over 50 moles may mean an increased risk of developing melanoma. Some kinds also pose a higher risk, though there are some telltale signs that it is time to see a doctor to get checked.

Here are some of the things you should watch out for:

  • Any change in color

  • Change in size: Check if the mole is getting unevenly bigger or smaller

  • Characteristic change: If the mole changes in shape, texture, or height

  • Dry or scaly skin on the surface

  • Hard or lumpy moles

  • Itching, bleeding or oozing on the surface of the mole

On certain occasions, moles that aren't your common type - dysplastic nevi or atypical moles - also appear.

A dysplastic nevus may be bigger than a common mole, with a different color, surface, and border. It is usually 5 millimeters wide and it appears in a mix of several colors, from pink to dark brown. Aside from its flat yet smooth, slightly scaly, or pebbly surface, a dysplastic nevus also features an irregular edge that appears to fade into the surrounding skin.

Dysplastic nevi do not always turn into melanoma. It can remain stable over time, though it is known to increase the risk of melanoma. The risk of developing melanoma, according to statistics, rises to about ten times, for people with more than five dysplastic nevi than for those who don't. That said, people with more dysplastic nevi are at higher risk, so it is more important for them to protect their skin and avoid getting a suntan or sunburn. Doctors also recommend that people with dysplastic nevi get a monthly skin check and look out for the following:

  • Change in color

  • Change in size: It gets smaller or bigger

  • Change in shape, texture, or height

  • Dry or scaly skin on the surface

  • Hard or lumpy moles

  • Itchy moles

  • Bleeding or oozing on the mole surface

People with dysplastic nevi should also get their skin examined by a doctor. If there are over five dysplastic nevi, once or twice a year skin exam is ideal because of the moderately increased risk of melanoma. For people with a family history of melanoma, doctors may suggest a more frequent skin exam, every 3 to 6 months.

These skin exams may include skin biopsy, so patients who are concerned that the procedure may leave a biopsy scar on cosmetically sensitive areas such as the face, neck, or arm, are better off getting their consultation done in clinics equipped with Spectra-Scope, an AI-based LIPS technology that provides instant, scar-free, and highly-accurate diagnosis for all types of skin cancer.

Editor's note: "Can a common mole or dysplastic nevus become melanoma?" was edited from an article originally published by the National Cancer Institute.



bottom of page