If you're tempted to remove several very large, bumpy and itchy moles from your lower back with store-bought mole removal products, you may want to reconsider. Not all moles that grow on your body are regular moles. Most very large moles may be atypical moles, or moles that may lead to cancer. Regular moles, or common moles, are generally small, have smooth surfaces and don't usually itch. Learn the differences between common moles and atypical moles and why you should allow a physician to examine and remove your moles for you.
What Are the Differences Between Common Moles and Atypical Moles?
Common moles typically show up in areas of the skin exposed to the sun, such as your face, neck and arms. Some people may have as many as 40 common moles or as few as 10. Common moles generally look small in size and round or oval-shaped in appearance, as well as flattened against the skin or slightly raised from the skin. The moles may also be brown, pink or tan in color.
Dysplastic nevi (atypical moles) develop any many body areas, including the buttocks and scalp. Atypical moles have irregularly-shaped flat edges and raised or bumpy centers that feel rough to the touch. The borders or edges of the moles may appear fuzzy as well. Most atypical moles have multiple colors instead of one. For example, instead of being just tan or brown all over, an atypical mole may have a mixture of the two or more colors, such as black, brown and tan with specks of red, blue and white added in.
Atypical moles may exhibit other symptoms that include itching, bleeding and oozing. The skin over around the moles may crack or turn scaly as well. Some individuals experience pain or discomfort if their moles grow larger than 6 millimeters, which is about the size of a pencil eraser.
It's critical that you allow a doctor to examine your moles as soon as possible.
How Dangerous Are Atypical Moles?
Although most atypical moles are benign, or noncancerous, they can place you at risk for skin cancer, especially if you have more than four of the moles or a family history of cancer, or malignant melanomas. These factors place you at risk for melanoma cancer and the problems it may cause you, especially if the cancer spreads to other locations of the body and infect them.
To see if your moles are cancerous, a doctor may perform a biopsy, or test, on one or more of the moles on your lower back. A doctor may completely freeze or burn off the mole, or the physician may remove small pieces of a mole to examine in a laboratory. If the biopsy reveals cancer cells or cells that might become cancerous, a doctor may check your lymph nodes to see if the cancer cells spread.
The lymph nodes produce fluids that help remove and filter out infection and bacteria from your body's tissues and cells. Sometimes, the lymph nodes become overwhelmed from the contaminants they remove and swell up, or the lymph nodes may actually develop a secondary cancer from the contaminants they remove. If your lymph nodes also show signs of cancer, a doctor may remove them to help treat or get rid of the cancer produced by your moles. If a physician doesn't remove the infected nodes, they may inadvertently spread the cancer to other body areas through their lymph fluids.
One thing to keep in mind is that you may need to return to the doctor's office several times to remove all of your moles and to check the status of your cells. This is something a doctor may discuss with you in greater detail before you undergo treatment.
For more details about atypical moles, common moles and mole removal, schedule an appointment with a skin doctor today.