Can moles be cancerous?

Yes, moles can be cancerous, but they are rare.

While most moles are harmless, some can develop into melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer. Early detection is crucial for successful treatment, so knowing the signs and symptoms of potentially cancerous moles is important.

Here’s a breakdown of moles and melanoma:

  • Moles: These are common skin growths made up of pigment-producing cells (melanocytes). They can appear anywhere on the body in various colours (brown, black, tan, red) and sizes. Most people have between 10 and 40 moles by adulthood.
  • Melanoma: This is a type of skin cancer that develops from melanocytes. It can arise from a pre-existing mole or appear on normal skin. Melanoma is less common than other skin cancers, but it’s the most aggressive and has the potential to spread to other parts of the body if left untreated.

What makes a mole suspicious?

The “ABCDE” rule can help you identify moles that might warrant further evaluation by a dermatologist:

  • Asymmetry: One half of the mole doesn’t match the other half.
  • Border irregularity: The mole’s edges are uneven, ragged, or blurred.
  • Colour variation: The mole has different shades of brown, black, tan, red, white, or blue within it.
  • Diameter: The mole is larger than 6 millimetres (about the size of a pencil eraser).
  • Evolving: The mole changes in size, shape, or colour.

Must Raed: Different types of skin cancer

What to do if you have a suspicious mole?

If you notice a mole that exhibits any of the ABCDE characteristics, schedule an appointment with a dermatologist for a mole check. A dermatologist can examine the mole closely, possibly using a dermatoscope (a magnifying tool with a light source) to get a better view. 

They might also recommend a biopsy, in which a small sample of the mole is removed and examined under a microscope to determine whether it is cancerous.

Early detection is key!

Melanoma is highly treatable when caught early. Regular skin self-exams and professional mole checks are vital for early detection. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends a full-body skin check by a dermatologist at least once a year, especially for individuals with fair skin, a history of sunburn, or a family history of skin cancer.

Looking for a mole clinic in Southbank, Australia?

If you’re located in Southbank, Victoria, and are interested in scheduling a mole check, consider Capstone Medical Centre. You can contact us directly or book an appointment online through our website.


  • American Academy of Dermatology:
  • Skin Cancer Foundation:
  • Melanoma Research Foundation: