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:
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.
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