What causes moles?
The cause of moles is unknown. It is thought that sunlight or genetic factors play a role.
How are moles removed?
There are different types of moles. Some are small and flat (junctional), some are thicker (compound), and others are fleshy with a deep root (intradermal). If the mole is small and not too thick, laser can be done. If the mole is large with a deep component, surgical excision may be the best option. Your dermatologist will assess to see which type of mole you have and discuss the best treatment options.
Can moles become cancerous?
Most moles are benign. However, if you have a mole which is changing in colour, size and thickness, or developing symptoms like itch, pain or bleeding, it is best to see a dermatologist for an assessment. A minor procedure called a skin biopsy can be done in the clinic to exclude a skin cancer. If you have a past history or family history of skin cancer, you are also at a higher risk of getting skin cancer.
How do I get my moles checked?
Moles can be checked by your dermatologist with a thorough head-to-toe clinical examination. Suspicious moles can be further examined with a dermatoscope, which is a device to magnify the moles. If you have risk factors for melanoma (e.g. past or family history of melanoma, multiple moles, past history of atypical moles), your dermatologist may recommend digital mole mapping where an automated device takes total body photography (“map”) of your moles in standardised poses. Serial “maps” can be compared and any new moles or changes in your moles can be picked up with sophisticated software. Mole mapping, while very useful as an aid to melanoma diagnosis, does not replace a full body skin examination by your dermatologist. It is recommended that you do your skin checks at least once a year.