A mole is a benign tumor of the skin that can be flat or raised. The color of moles varies from skin color to light yellow, to shades of brown or even blue-black.
Generally moles may be left untreated. Unsightly moles may be removed surgically. It is wise to request a microscopic examination of each mole that is removed since studies have shown that most physicians are unable to distinguish a benign mole from a melanoma. A mole may be a melanoma if it changes in color, size, surface characteristics, shape, or becomes itchy, painful, or bleeds. Moles present at birth or forming in early childhood have a significant risk of developing a melanoma and these should be removed. Some people have many irregular moles which when biopsied show various gradations of atypia. This is called the dysplastic nevus syndrome. Patients with this disorder are at increased risk of developing melanoma in one of these atypical moles. Monthly skin checks should be performed and any changes should be brought to the attention of a dermatologist.