Are new moles always a sign of cancer?

Close up of melanoma mole on woman's skin.
Close up of melanoma mole on woman's skin. See more pictures of skin problems.
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A new mole doesn't necessarily mean you have cancer -- in fact, people often develop new moles early in life. Of course, that doesn't mean that you shouldn't keep an eye out for them. It's always better to be safe than sorry, so if you think you have a cancerous mole, you should get it checked by a doctor right away.

Although a new mole doesn't always mean cancer, the mole might be malignant and your chances of beating cancer increase if you catch it early [source: American Cancer Society]. You're also more likely to develop skin cancer if you already have a lot of moles or freckles, so check yourself regularly for any new moles that look different. Cancerous moles tend to be oddly colored and shaped [source: Rutherford]. If you find a mole on your body that's markedly different in color than your normal skin tone and has ragged edges, you should have it examined as soon as possible.


In addition to searching for new moles on your body, you should keep an eye on the ones you already have. If moles begin to change shape or color, or if they bleed, that could be a warning sign of skin cancer. Typically, moles are asymmetrical in shape, smaller than the size of a pencil eraser and flush with the skin [source: Levine]. Anything else could mean trouble. Remember, however, that the appearance of an abnormal mole doesn't mean that you need to worry. Again, the best thing you can do is visit a qualified medical professional.

It's important to be aware of your skin and keep an eye out for any abnormalities that might arise. If you find something that doesn't seem right, have it examined. More often than not, it will turn out to be nothing. If it's cancerous, however, you'll be giving yourself the advantage by finding it early.

Check out the next page to find out more information on new moles and skin cancer.


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Related HowStuffWorks Articles

  • American Cancer Society. "Skin Cancer Prevention and Early Detection." (accessed 08/19/2009)
  • Levine, Norman. "Moles and Skin Cancer Screening." Web MD. Feb. 7, 2009. (accessed 08/11/2009)
  • Rutherford, Dan. "Skin cancer (Malignant melanoma)." Net Doctor. Jan, 08, 2005. (accessed 08/11/2009)