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Mole - Nevus (benign melanoma)
A mole (or melanocytic nevus) is an abnormal collection of pigment
cells present within the skin. These cells are known as melanocytes
whose function is to produce the skin pigment that is responsible for
skin tan. Moles are extremely common. Most people are born with a few
moles and develop others during their lives.
Most moles are simply the result of a harmless proliferation of the
pigment cells within the deeper layer of the skin. A few of these
moles are congenital, are present at birth. But most develop
spontaneously or are caused by exposure to sunlight and tend to appear
on those areas of the skin that catch the most sunlight. Most of these
moles appear during the first 20 years of life, although they may
continue to develop into the 30s and 40s. However, the majority
disappear with age.
Problems associated with moles
Some can undergo malignant transformation (transform into cancer):
Signs that are suspicious of malignancy:
- Increase in size
- Increase in pigmentation
- Fissuring and ulceration
- Itching or pain
- The presence of satellite nodules around it (due to lymphatic
Some moles are disfiguring. Particularly if they occur on the face.
Some at a site of repeated irritation. For example moles at the elbow
are subject to repeated trauma.
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They can be removed by 2 surgical methods:
- Excision (cutting) with stitches.
- Excision with cauterization (a tool is used to burn away the
The choice of excision with or without stitches depends on the depth
of the mole and the type of cosmetic outcome desired.