Mole (Nevus), Dysplastic Nevus and Melanoma, Explained by a Skin Expert |

Mole (Nevus), Dysplastic Nevus and Melanoma, Explained by a Skin Expert

Know the difference between common moles, potentially cancerous moles, and melanoma

Posted on

13 November 2023

Last updated on 14 November 2023
Moles and skin cancer consultation in Dubai

Regular check-ups and monitoring of skin spots and moles are essential.

In this approved guide from Dr. Kamil Al Rustom Skin and Laser Centre, one of Dubai's most sought-after dermatology, laser, plastic surgery, and aesthetic medicine clinics, we take a look at common moles, Dysplastic Nevi, and Melanomas.

Common Moles vs. Dysplastic Nevi

Common Moles

Common moles are a non-cancerous growth on the skin that is formed by a cluster of melanocytes (cells that make a substance called melanin, which gives color to skin and eyes). A mole may be dark or flesh-colored and may be raised from the skin.

Dysplastic Nevi (DN)

A type of mole that may develop into a type of skin cancer called malignant melanoma. They look different from common moles.

A DN is often larger with borders that are not easy to see. Its colour is usually uneven and can range from pink to dark brown, and parts of the mole may be raised above the skin surface.

The photos below show the difference between Common Moles and Dysplastic Nevi.

What are the differences between a mole and skin cancer?

What Does Melanoma Look Like?

Melanoma is a cancer that begins in melanocytes (cells that make the pigment melanin). Below are photos of Melanoma that formed on the skin.

Is it only limited to the skin?

Melanoma can also start in the eye, the intestines, or other body areas with pigmented tissues.

Signs of Melanoma:

Often, the first sign of Melanoma is a change in the shape, colour, size, or feel of an existing mole. However, Melanoma may also appear as a new mole.

People should tell their doctor if they notice any changes in the skin. The only way to diagnose Melanoma is to remove tissue and check it for cancer cells.

Use the "ABCDE" Rule

The "ABCDE" rule describes the features of early melanoma, it can help you remember what to look for. These features are:

  • Asymmetry - The shape of one half does not match the other half.
  • Border that is irregular - The edges are often ragged, notched, or blurred in outline. The pigment may spread into the surrounding skin.
  • Colour that is uneven - Shades of black, brown, and tan may be present. Areas of white, gray, red, pink, or blue may also be seen.
  • Diameter - There is a change in size, usually an increase. Melanomas can be tiny, but most are larger than 6 millimeters wide (about 1/4 inch wide).
  • Evolving - The mole has changed over the past few weeks or months.
Signs of Melanoma on skin

Melanomas can vary greatly in how they look. Many show all of the ABCDE features. However, some may show changes or abnormal areas in only one or two of the ABCDE features.

In more advanced Melanoma, the texture of the mole may change. The skin on the surface may break down and look scraped. It may become hard or lumpy. The surface may ooze or bleed. Sometimes, the Melanoma is itchy, tender, or painful.

Reference: National Cancer Institute.

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