Moles are a type of skin growth that often appears as small, dark brown spots caused by clusters of pigmented cells. Most moles develop during childhood and will grow as the child (or teenager) grows.


Moles are caused by pigment-producing cells in the skin and can be flat or raised, smooth or rough, and some contain hair. Most moles are dark brown or black, but some are skin-coloured or yellowish.

A mole on your body usually has these traits. It's:

  • One colour - often brown, but a mole can be tan, black, red, pink, blue, skin-toned, or colourless.
  • Round in shape
  • Flat or slightly raised
  • Unchanged from month to month


An atypical mole is also known as a dysplastic nevus. Atypical moles (or nevi) are often:

  • Larger than an eraser on the end of a pencil
  • Are irregularly shaped (not round).
  • Show more than one colour—mixes of tan, brown, red, and pink.

Atypical moles can appear anywhere on the body. They often appear on the trunk. You can also get them on your scalp, head, or neck.


How are atypical moles managed?

Treatment for atypical moles may include removal of any mole that changes in colour, shape or diameter. In addition, people with atypical moles should avoid sun exposure since sunlight may accelerate changes in atypical moles. People with atypical moles should see a dermatologist for any changes that may indicate skin cancer.

Most moles do not require treatment.


How do I know my mole may be cancerous?

A few tips to determine whether or not your mole turned cancerous involve analysing the mole's borders and checking its size and colour. A suspicious mole tends to grow over 6mm in diameter, with ragged edges and a mixture of more than one colour. Dr Jacobs will perform a detailed physical inspection of the mole and, if necessary, conduct a skin biopsy by means of a surgical instrument, also known as a

Who is an ideal candidate for mole mapping?

  • Patients with several moles
  • Presence of atypical moles
  • Fair-skinned people or those who have increased sun exposure
  • Patients with a family history (first-degree relatives) of melanoma or a personal history of melanoma
  • Anyone concerned about the appearance of their moles

A mole (nevus) is a small brown spot that arises from the build-up of pigment cells (melanocytes). A sudden change or changes over time, especially in large or congenital moles, may be a sign of melanoma, a type of skin cancer that occurs due to a mutation in melanocytes.

Moles are common in adults and children. It is estimated that the average adult can develop ten to forty moles. However, a majority of these moles should not be a cause for concern. Still, there remains a risk that moles can develop into melanoma, which is why mole mapping has become an essential skin cancer screening tool.

Mole mapping is a process of identifying new or suspicious moles that could be a strong indication of skin cancer. This method is also used to assess changes in the appearance and size of the moles by combining specialised photography and dermoscopy, a non-invasive diagnostic technique for skin tumours.

There are different types of mole-mapping imaging devices, including a FotoFinder®, an innovative mole mapping machine used to screen the skin's surface to check for the presence of moles. Dr Jacobs uses cutting-edge technology systems (FotoFinder®) to document suspicious moles and pigmented skin lesions.

Mole Mapping and the way it functions

A machine is used to record high-quality images of the moles on your skin to allow specialists to monitor them over time.

The information from your mole map is safely stored in Dr Jacobs' files for future reference. The images provide an indication of change over time. If you notice any variations beforehand, you should schedule a follow-up with Dr Jacobs. In time, she will review the mole map and compare the visuals with your current condition. Should Dr Jacobs notice any concerning changes, she will take further steps to rule out or confirm the presence of melanoma.

Fortunately, early detection of melanoma can prevent the spread of the cancer to the body.