Atypical Mole Removal: A Dermatologist Answers Your Questions

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One topic of concern for many of our members here on SkinCancerConnection   is what to do about an atypical mole. An atypical mole is also sometimes called a "dysplastic nevus." These types of lesions are described as atypical because they do not look like other moles. They may have irregular borders, asymmetry, multiple colors, or show a change in size. Any suspicious mole that changes in size or color, itches, bleeds, or looks different than the rest of your moles should be looked at by your doctor or dermatologist. The worry is that these atypical moles have the potential to develop into melanoma.   In this post we are going to call upon the expertise of Dr. Lawrence Green, a practicing dermatologist, to answer a member question about the procedure to remove an atypical mole.

Member "Roods" asks:

My mole biopsy report showed severe atypia and positive margins. The soonest the Dr. could re excise it "with stitches" is in six weeks. I am a 2 time BrCa survivor and it makes me nervous to wait this long for a re excision. Should I be concerned?

Dr. Green answers:   There are no hard fast rules on when you should remove an atypical mole once it has been found. But I imagine the sooner an abnormal mole is excised, the safer you will feel. When you have a cancerous mole, I would certainly recommend you remove it within a few weeks of it being diagnosed. The sooner the better in this case. Other atypical moles, in my opinion, should be completely excised (and usually with some extra normal skin around it to be extra safe) in a manner depending on how atypical they are. For example, severely atypical moles are not cancerous, but they are close to being a cancer. I would therefore recommend these also get removed as soon as you can within reason-say a few weeks to a month after they are found.

Moderately atypical moles should be removed in less than two months after they are diagnosed. I personally think that mildly atypical moles should also be removed within two months after they are found. But that said, there is a school of thought among some dermatologists and dermatopathologists that mildly atypical moles pose such a low cancer risk that they do not even have to be completely excised if you don't want them to.

Thank you Dr. Green for your answer

For more information on atypical moles and mole removal please refer to the following Health Central articles: