All residents should get annual skin screenings to check for conditions including skin cancer. This is especially true of patients who have moles. Depending on a mole’s shape, color, diameter, border, or recent changes in appearance, you may require mole removal so that a biopsy can be performed to determine if the mole has cancerous cells. Other times, moles don’t display the telltale signs of skin cancer, but are irritable, unsightly or appear in unwanted places on the body, also necessitating mole removal. Dr. Perri removes moles from his patients for both of these reasons.
What is a Mole?
Your skin is an amazing organ. Regardless of your ethnicity and skin tone, you have pigment cells called melanocytes, which give your skin its color. Most of the time, these melanocytes are evenly spread out. But sometimes, they cluster together, causing a mole to form. Moles can be common, or benign, or atypical, meaning cancerous.
Removing Moles That Show the “ABCDE’s” of Skin Cancer
Not all moles are cause for concern. Some are just birthmarks or pigmentation marks that develop on the skin through the process above and are completely benign. However, residents should have mole removal if their moles are showing the “ABCDE’s” of skin cancer:
- A is for Asymmetrical
If your mole is asymmetrical in shape, it could be a sign of skin cancer. Moles that are not symmetrical should be removed and biopsied to determine if they are skin cancer.
- B is for Border
Non-harmful, benign moles should have smooth borders. However, if you have a mole that has a rough or jagged border, Dr. Perri should examine it right away.
- C is for Color
Most healthy moles are a single shade of brown. But moles that might be melanoma or another form of skin cancer may display a variety of colors or shades of brown, black, tan, and even red or blue. If you have a multicolored mole, you may need mole removal and a biopsy.
- D is for Diameter
Benign, or harmless moles, are typically small, about the size of a pencil eraser. If you have a mole that is larger, though, you’ll need to get it checked out immediately so Dr. Perri can determine if you need it removed and tested for skin cancer.
- E is for Evolving
Harmless moles usually continue to look the same, never altering at all. A mole that has constant or recent changes may have cancerous cells and should be reviewed by Dr. Perri immediately.
What Will Dermatologist, Dr. Perri Do if He Determines I Need Mole Removal?
Many of Dr. Perri’s patients have never had any form of surgery before, so it’s understandable that they might be anxious about having a mole removed during an outpatient procedure. Rest assured, though, that throughout your entire mole removal process, Dr. Perri will prioritize your comfort and safety.
For most moles found on the arms, legs, torso or back, Dr. Perri will inject the site with a local anesthetic, so you are numb to any pain from the incision. Once you are numbed, Dr. Perri will either take a small sample of the mole to biopsy, the entire mole, or if he is quite certain the mole is cancerous, he may take the entire mole plus a border of skin around it. This extra skin is excised to see if cancerous cells in the mole have spread. Once the mole is removed, it is sent to a lab where it is biopsied to see if it is malignant – meaning cancerous, or if it is benign – meaning harmless.
Removing Moles from Sensitive Areas
Moles can appear all over the body, including the lips, nose, and ears. For these sensitive areas, Dr. Perri may shave a small layer of the mole off, and send that layer to the lab for a skin cancer biopsy. If the mole is determined to be cancerous, you may require Moh’s surgery, which is a form of full mole removal that includes shaving layer by layer of the mole off your body. After each layer of the mole is removed, the Moh’s surgeon will examine it under a microscope to determine if he or she needs to continue removing cancerous cells. All mole shaving – whether just a layer for a biopsy or an entire mole removal for Moh’s surgery is performed under a local anesthetic.
Removing Irritable Moles
Some moles may be normal and not show the telltale signs of skin cancer but are bothersome to you. These may include moles that are raised and rub against your clothing, or moles that itch. Or it may be a mole that is embarrassing, and you would prefer a scar to the mole. Dr. Perri removes moles in these cases as well, typically by excision or shaving. Even though these moles are presumed not to be cancerous, Dr. Perri sends the skin samples to a lab for a biopsy to confirm that the seemingly harmless mole is indeed harmless.
See Dr. Perri Immediately if You Have Moles
If you have moles, you need to be seen by Dr. Perri regularly. And if any of your moles are displaying any one of the “ABCDE’s” of skin cancer, you should come in immediately.
To schedule an appointment with Perri Dermatology today, call our offices at (281) 943-2749.