Dysplastic (“atypical”) moles are not cancer. They may, however, have microscopic features that can be seen in malignant melanoma and our concern is that some may develop into melanoma skin cancer. Dysplastic moles can appear anywhere on the skin and may either appear as a new lesion or as a change in an existing mole. Most frequently, the pigmentation, texture, or border of the lesion gives us a clinical clue that the mole is dysplastic (“atypical”).
When a clinically atypical mole is present or the patient reports that an existing mole has changed in appearance or become symptomatic, Dr. Lober will usually perform a biopsy. This biopsy either confirms the need to proceed with treatment or avoids unnecessary treatment should the suspicious lesion not be microscopically atypical or cancerous. When significant atypical features are present, these lesions are usually treated by surgical removal and microscopic examination of the margins to assure that the growth has been completely removed.
After diagnosing and treating a dysplastic or atypical mole, Dr. Lober always recommends sun avoidance, the use of protective clothing, and the use of a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or greater. This will help minimize the chance of your developing other lesions. Dr. Lober also recommends follow-up visits to his office so that any future premalignant lesions or skin cancers can be detected early should they develop.