Does a Suddenly Raised Mole Always Indicate Melanoma?

Based on your experience throughout the years does a suddenly raised mole always indicate melanoma? Has that been the case with all your patients? I have a tiny slightly larger than a pin prick, dark brown mole on my upper thigh. Its become raised in the last 1-2 months. No other changes from what I can tell. It doesn't hurt or itch. I just want to know if there have been cases in which a suddenly raised mole has not been melanoma. Thank you.

Doctor Answers 9

Sounds like you're in luck...

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here's the good news...tiny moles the size of a pin prick are overwhelmingly fact the likelihood of a melanoma in something this size is almost nil...change can be due to any number of issues...if something is only 1-2 millimeters in diameter, I'd do nothing other than watch it for further old adage that's generally correct is that pigmented spots smaller than the diameter of a pencil eraser are not melanoma...the spot may not even be a mole...might be a small blood harm in seeing a doctor if you're worried or if it continues to change...but overwhelmingly nothing to worry about...

Las Vegas Dermatologist


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If there is a suspicious mole that you are concerned about, it is always a good idea to have it evaluated and biopsied.

Sam Naficy, MD, FACS
Seattle Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 231 reviews

Suddenly Raised Mole.... Melanoma?

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Most pigmented lesions that suddenly raise are not melanomas; however, a small percentage might be. As such, the best option is to see a board-certified dermatologist to evaluate the lesion and determine whether a biopsy is necessary. If by chance it is a melanoma the prognosis is always better if the melanoma is detected and treated at as early a stage as possible.

Frequently we talk about the ABCDs of melanoma, which stands for Asymmetry, Border (irregular, jagged, blurred), Color (variation in color or any of the colors red, white blue or black) and Diameter (larger than the size of a pencil eraser). In addition we need to add an "E" to the "ABCDs". The "E" stands for Evolving (i.e. changing... getting bigger, darker, raised, or itchy, etc).

Since your pigmented lesion is changing or evolving, it should be examined by a dermatologist. Good luck.

Andrew Kaufman, MD
Los Angeles Dermatologic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 16 reviews

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Is the raised mole a melanoma

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Most pigmented lesions that suddenly rise generally are okay. While there is a chance, it can be a melanoma the chances are small. Consult with a dermatologist so he or she can evaluate to determine if a biopsy can evaluate. 

Kris M. Reddy, MD, FACS
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Rapidly growing mole and melanoma

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Melanoma sometimes is obvious on examination, and other times not.  A true diagnosis can only be obtained under the microscope.  Rapidly progressing moles, however, are more suspicious.

Raffy Karamanoukian, MD, FACS
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Change in a Mole

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Many moles will suddenly become raised due to mechanical irritation (being scratched or rubbing on clothing). Most will not be melanoma. I have removed enough moles to know that you cannot always tell if a mole is melanoma without a biopsy. However, there are warning signs, such as dark brown or uneven colors, size larger than a pencil, or irregular borders/shape, change in size or shape. A good rule of thumb is that all moles that you are worried about should be checked by your surgeon or dermatologist.

Temp Patterson, MD
Burley Facial Plastic Surgeon

Warning signs of melanoma

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A suddenly raised mole is a changing mole and therefore it would be safer to have it evaluated by a board certified dermatologist. However, a mole that small is unlikely to be cancerous. Please use the ABCDE's as your guide for when to be concerned about moles: A for Asymmetry; B for Irregular Borders; C for Black or uneven Colors; D for diameter greater than a pencil eraser; and E for a growth that is Evolving or changing. If necessary, it is an extremely simple five minute procedure for a dermatologist to remove the mole using either a "punch" or a "shave" biopsy which typically leaves a minimal scar. The mole can then be checked microscopically for reassurance.

You can follow the video link below to learn more about identifying the changes in moles that are suspicious for skin cancer.

Mitchell Schwartz, MD
South Burlington Dermatologic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

Not always bad

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Not always a problem, could be simply irritated. Suggest you get it checked out just to be completely sure its ok. A Derm can tell immediately if it needs to come off for a biopsy or not. Good luck

John DeSpain, MD
Columbia Dermatologist

Does a suddenly raised mole always indicate melanoma?

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A suddenly raised mole does not always indicate melanoma.  In fact, a suddenly raised mole, in most cases, will not be melanoma.  There are several factors which can be signs of a potential melanoma, including size, color, and irregularity.  If you have a concern with your mole though, I would see a dermatologist to have it checked.  

Michael I. Echavez, MD
San Francisco Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.