Moles and melanoma
Moles (or naevi) are harmless overgrowth of the skin's pigment cells (melanocytes). Moles may develop during adolescence, pregnancy or with chemotherapy.
New or changing moles should be checked for signs of suspicion for cancerous growth (such as melanoma).
New Zealand has the highest rates of melanoma skin cancers in the world. Some people are genetically more at risk of skin cancer. Sun protection and regularly checking your skin can help to identify suspicious moles so that they can be removed early.
Changing, irregular or growing moles should be checked by a professional for features of melanoma. A mole that looks different from others or stands out is called the "ugly duckling" and and expert opinion may help to determine whether features of early cancer are present. In the clinic we use magnification with specialised polarised light in dermoscopic examination to identify microscopic features of development of cancers such as melanoma.