Moles are growths on the skin that are usually brown or black. Moles can appear anywhere on the skin, alone or in groups. Most moles appear in early childhood and during the first 30 years of a person’s life. It is normal to have between 10-40 moles by adulthood. As the years pass, moles usually change slowly, becoming raised and/or changing color. Often, hairs develop on the mole. Some moles may not change at all, while others may slowly disappear over time. A mole or freckle should be checked if it has a diameter of more than 7 mm or any characteristics of the ABCDEs of melanoma.
If a physician believes a mole needs to be evaluated further or removed entirely, he or she will either remove the entire mole, or first take just a small tissue sample of the mole to examine thin sections of the tissue under a microscope (a biopsy).