Moles and Warts
“Moles and warts” is a term used loosely to describe a variety of skin abnormalities that raise the specter of skin cancer. Fortunately, most such conditions are benign (not cancerous), and can be left alone unless they cause significant irritation or discomfort. The problem is that some of the benign “moles” are very difficult to distinguish from the malignant (cancerous) variety, even to a physician. The best strategy is to keep track of all moles on one’s body with the help of a vigilant physician or a dermatologist. If there is any question at all, the “mole” in question should be biopsied so you may be more certain of its diagnosis. The final step, in some situations, is mole removal. Below are listed some of the conditions that are either very common or very potentially dangerous to your health.
(Important Note: Conditions listed below are by no means exhaustive of the entire spectrum of skin conditions considered as “Moles and Warts”, for which you should consult your own physician.)
This is a very common skin condition present almost on every adult’s skin at some point in their lives. These are completely benign (not cancerous). People often refer to these as “moles” and “warts.” When they’re obvious, they are easily distinguished from the malignant (cancerous) skin lesions. But often they are not easily distinguishable from the malignant nevi (“moles”), and they should be examined by a physician or a dermatologist to be assured of their benign diagnosis. There is a recognized condition called an “Irritated Seborrheic Keratosis” which involves a thickened skin variety that can cause significant irritation, resulting in circumferential inflammation and dermatitis. Biopsy or excision is required to establish diagnosis or to relieve discomfort.
Benign nevi (pleural of nevus) are also called “common moles,” and nearly everyone has these. Again, fortunately most moles are benign, but they should nevertheless be carefully watched over time. Malignant nevi (melanoma) vis-à-vis the benign type are recognized by the ABCD criteria. (See Melanoma for details).
This is a group of very malignant (cancerous) skin abnormalities. There are various different types of melanoma, on all parts of the body, with very different appearances. They are difficult to distinguished from benign conditions such as seborrheic keratosis or benign nevi (“common moles”). Suspicion of a melanoma increases if they exhibit the physical signs with the acronym of ABCD:
- Borders that are irregular
- Colors that are variegated (dark black, blue and red hues)
- Diameter that is enlarging, i.e. increasing in size or changing in shape over a short time, i.e. one to three months.
The need to be evaluated by an experienced physician cannot be over-emphasized, and a biopsy should be performed if there is any doubt at all. Untreated or delayed for treatment, melanoma is one of the deadliest cancers encountered by patients. Its occurrence is on the rise in the U.S., especially among young women.
SQUAMOUS CELL CARCINOMA
Squamous cell carcinoma (cancer) is an invasive skin cancer that can spread to other parts of the body if untreated. They can arise from prior, chronic skin ailments such as thermal burn scars, radiation burn scars, chronic skin wounds and ulcers. They also arise from “normal” skin with significant sun exposure and/or ultraviolet radiation. The appearance is irregular in shape with scales and sometimes ulcerated. There are many skin conditions that maybe confused with squamous cell carcinoma. Therefore, when suspected, these should be examined by an experienced physician or a dermatologist for further treatment.
BASAL CELL CARCINOMA
This is the most common, “invasive” skin cancer. It often occurs as a skin sore or a scab that bleeds, heals, then recurs. It is a slowly growing cancer that could be present for a long time before being noticed and yet does not spread to other parts of the body. However, untreated, it can grow into the underlying tissue, not only into the subcutaneous layer but also into the bone and cause significant disfigurement. There is no reason not to excise this skin cancer as soon as it is suspected.
If you have questions regarding mole or wart removal, we are here to help. Please contact Advanced Vein Care Center for a consultation at our Springfield, MA office. We can be reached by phone at 413.732.4242 or fill out the form below.