If you have a mole that concerns you, your family doctor can usually let you know if it's normal or needs further investigation. He or she may then refer you to a doctor who specializes in skin disorders (dermatologist) for diagnosis and treatment.
It's a good idea to arrive for your appointment well prepared. Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment, and what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
- Write down any changes you've noticed or any new symptoms you're experiencing. Include any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
- Make a list of all medications, as well as any vitamins or supplements, that you're taking.
- If you've had a melanoma or an atypical mole removed in the past, note the location of the lesion and also the date of removal. If you have the biopsy report, bring it with you to the appointment.
- Don't wear makeup or opaque nail polish to your appointment. These products make it difficult for your doctor to perform a thorough skin exam.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor.
Your time with your doctor is limited, so preparing a list of questions can help you make the most of your time together. List your questions from most important to least important in case time runs out. For moles, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- Do you think this mole might be cancerous?
- How can I tell if a mole needs to be looked at?
- Can I prevent more moles from developing?
- Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take home with me? What websites do you recommend?
In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask questions during your appointment.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions, such as:
Dec. 06, 2011
- When did you first notice this mole?
- Have you always had it, or is it new?
- Have you noticed any changes in this mole, such as color or shape changes?
- Have you had other moles surgically removed in the past? If so, were they found to be atypical or malignant?
- Do you have a family history of atypical moles or melanoma?
- Moles. American Academy of Dermatology. http://www.aad.org/public/publications/pamphlets/common_moles.html. Accessed Sept. 13, 2011.
- Moles. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/print/dermatologic_disorders/benign_skin_tumors/moles.htmlnatlcan. Accessed Sept. 13, 2011.
- What you need to know about moles and dysplastic nevi. National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/wyntk/moles-and-dysplastic-nevi/allpages/print. Accessed Sept. 13,2011.
- Nevi and malignant melanoma. In: Habif TP. Clinical Dermatology: A Color Guide to Diagnosis and Therapy. 5th ed. Edinburgh, U.K.; New York, N.Y.: Mosby Elsevier; 2010.http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?about=true&eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-7234-3541-9..X0001-6--TOP&isbn=978-0-7234-3541-9&uniqId=230100505-57. Accessed Sept. 14, 2011.
- Moles in children: What parents should know. American Academy of Dermatology. http://www.skincarephysicians.com/skincancernet/moles_children.html. Accessed Sept. 13, 2011.
- Clarke LE. Dysplastic nevi. Clinics in Laboratory Medicine. 2011;31:255.
- Step-by-step self-examination. Skin Cancer Foundation. http://www.skincancer.org/step-by-step-self-examination/Print.html. Accessed Sept. 14, 2011.
- Prevention guidelines. Skin Cancer Foundation. http://www.skincancer.org/prevention-guidelines/Print.html. Accessed Sept. 14, 2011.
You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.