ZocdocAnswersHow do I know if I should have a mole removed?

Question

How do I know if I should have a mole removed?

I have a large mole on my back. It is oddly shaped but hasn't grown or changed. Should I have it removed? If I let it go will it turn into skin cancer?

Answer

A mole is a collection of abnormal cells called melanocytes. These cells are the ones responsible for giving our skin color. The problem with moles is that they all have the potential to become cancerous and turn into a melanoma. However, the risk of the average mole turning into a cancer is very low. Thus it is important to identify those that are at higher risk of becoming cancer (melanoma) and have those ones removed. In general, there are several characteristics of a mole that concerning and should prompt removal. If the mole is has any asymmetry to it, it is more likely to be concerning. If it's color is not that same throughout, or if its borders are not sharp, it may be something you would consider getting removed. Finally, if the mole is especially large, it could be something that should be removed. It sounds like your mole is both large and possibly asymmetric. If this is the case, there is a chance that you would benefit from its removal. I suggest that you schedule an appointment with a dermatologist. The dermatologists are experts in determining whether or not a mole needs to be removed, and can remove it effectively if necessary. Good luck.

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

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