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Atypical Mole Evaluation Memphis Mole Check Memphis Dermatologist

George Woodbury Jr. M.D. 04/30/2023

Mole Evaluation or a Mole Check is a vital part of a Skin Cancer Screening, allowing detection of a possible Atypical Mole and even a Skin Cancer, such as Melanoma. And early detection of Skin Cancer definitely save lives.

As a practicing Board-certified Memphis Dermatologist with Rheumatology and Dermatology Associates in Cordova, Tennessee, near Germantown, Bartlett, Collierville, and Arlington, let me share with you what features we as Dermatologists are looking for when we do a Mole Evaluation.

Melanoma is a type of Skin Cancer that can develop out of normal skin or out of a pre-existing normal mole. It can also arise from what’s called an Atypical Mole, or a Dysplastic Nevus. The trigger is often exposure to UV rays – or Ultraviolet Light – coming from the sun or indoor tanning bulbs.

The person in the photo below has a Melanoma on his forehead.

Here's a close-up of this Melanoma:

The warning signs of moles that Dermatologists watch for – as originally described by Dr Rigel of New York University’s Department of Dermatology – are the A, B, C, D, E warning signs:

A stands for Asymmetry: one half of the mole does not match the other half.

B stands for an irregular Border: perhaps jagged like the coast of Maine, rather than smooth, like the coast of Florida.

C stands for Color change: perhaps a mole that’s particularly dark; or with different shades of brown, black, or gray; or with Color changes taking place.

D stands for a Diameter that’s enlarging (the distance across the mole). D can also stand for Dark – a mole that’s darker than a person’s other moles.

E stands for Evolving or changing features.

So what’s the story on atypical moles, sometimes also called dysplastic nevi or dysplastic moles?

In the 1970s, a Dermatologist from the University of Pennsylvania – Dr. Wally Clark – first identified certain families within which people tended to have a number of dark moles and family members tended to develop Melanoma. He described the clinical features and lab features of a Dysplastic Mole or a Dysplastic Nevus, these being moles that tended to be dark in color, often with a raised center and a flat periphery. Dermatologists now know that people with Atypical Moles can develop Melanoma both from their normal skin, and from these dark moles. Until more data becomes available, many Dermatologists – including myself – are generally recommending that atypical moles be completely removed – unless patients have so many of them that it’s more feasible to photograph the moles and monitor them for changes.

A Dysplastic Mole or Atypical Mole can sometimes be suspected by a Dermatologist based upon inspecting the skin and finding a mole that’s unduly dark, or with a raised center – when compared with a person’s other moles. This is sometimes called the Ugly Duckling Mole sign.

For photos of melanoma and normal moles and atypical moles look like, go to the Skin Cancer Foundation website, For a movie on Youtube that my own practice sponsored on this topic, about a 26-year-old woman who developed Melanoma while pregnant, go to “Understanding the Melanoma Crisis: Scarlet’s Story:”

The good news about the type of Skin Cancer that we call Melanoma is that early detection definitely saves lives: if caught early, Melanoma is close to 100% curable with an outpatient removal or “excision,” under a shot of local anesthetic, a procedure that can be done by a Dermatologic Surgeon.

So the moral of the story is: “See Spot. See Spot Change. See a Dermatologist.” My own Dermatology practice for over 30 years has been with Rheumatology and Dermatology ( 8143 Walnut Grove Road, Cordova TN 38018: 1-901-753-0168. Or to find a Dermatologist closer to you, go to the American Society of Dermatology website,, then plug your zip code into the “Find a Dermatologist” tab.

George Woodbury Jr. M.D.



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