Health A-Z

Medical Content Created by the Faculty of the
Harvard Medical School

0SHARES

Symptoms

Moles can vary in color. They can be flesh-colored, yellow-brown or dark brown. They also can be flat or raised and can be smooth, hairy or warty. Although moles usually are harmless, in some cases they can become cancerous, causing a potentially deadly tumor called malignant melanoma. For this reason, it is important to monitor moles and have them examined by a dermatologist if they:

  • Get larger suddenly

  • Develop an irregular border

  • Become darker or inflamed

  • Show spotty color changes

  • Begin to bleed, crack or itch

  • Become painful

Moles called atypical moles, or dysplastic nevi, have somewhat different physical characteristics and sometimes run in families. They are more likely than common moles to turn into cancer. People with multiple dysplastic nevi and melanoma in two or more first-degree relatives have 25 times the risk of developing melanoma. This is called the dysplastic nevus-melanoma syndrome.

Page 2 of 9     Next Page:  Moles (Nevi) Diagnosis
Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints
From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

You can find more great health information on the Harvard Health Publications website.