ZocdocAnswersCan a mole with abnormal cells cause other cancers?

Question

Can a mole with abnormal cells cause other cancers?

I had 3 mole removed and the doctors office called and said that they had abnormal cells, does that mean I am more likely to get skin cancer. Can it lead to me getting other cancers?

Answer

I recommend that you discuss your concern with your doctor. Moles that have abnormal cells are often called 'dysplastic', which means that the cells in the mole are not cancerous yet but are abnormal and are probably on their way to becoming cancer. When these moles are completely removed it is unlikely that you will get cancer from that specific mole; it does mean, however, that you likely have an increased risk of developing skin cancer (specifically melanoma) since your body has already shown that the cells are capable of transforming into abnormal and possibly malignant cells. Overall, your risk of cancer is determined by many factors, including your family history, your history of sun exposure and in particular history of bad sun burns, and by the number of atypical moles you have. Studies have shown, for example, that an individual with 10 or more dysplastic moles have 12x the risk of developing melanoma. None of this means that you definitely will get skin cancer, but it does signify that you might be at increased risk. I would recommend you discuss this result with your doctor and discuss what they think your risk is likely to be (since they know the details of your case and of the pathology results), and how often they think you should come in for a full skin exam.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.