Atypical moles

What they are:

Moles are extremely common, and while some moles have a uniform appearance, others may look like melanoma. Just because a mole looks like a melanoma, it may still be benign. If the cells that make up a mole become irregular, they are referred to as atypical or dysplastic moles.

If you have atypical moles and a family history of melanoma, you may have a high risk of skin cancer. Use the ABCDE’s as a guide to evaluate your moles:

A-asymmetry, meaning one half doesn’t look like the other

B-border irregularity, a jagged or scalloped edge

C-color, either multiple colors in one lesion or one very dark color

D-diameter, anything greater than 6mm or the size of a pencil eraser

E-evolution, some sort of change.


The risk of an atypical mole developing into a malignant melanoma is low, so your doctor won’t want to remove, or even biopsy, every atypical mole. 

The best thing to do is consult with your doctor if you are worried about a mole, or if it seems to be changing. If the doctor agrees there is cause for concern, he or she may examine the mole with a dermoscope, take a biopsy, or, if necessary, remove the entire mole.