DermTV – Even Small Moles Can Become Skin Cancer [ Epi #301]
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DermTV – Even Small Moles Can Become Skin Cancer [ Epi #301]

Hello, I’m Dr. Neal Schultz [pause] and welcome to DermTV. I hope you’re all doing a skin self exam
every month… and also having a complete skin screening exam for pre-cancers
and skin cancers… by a dermatologist every year. People ask whether
very small moles can turn into melanoma, but more importantly, if they can
already be melanoma. The simple answer to both unfortunately is yes but the
good news is that tiny melanomas are almost always 100% curable.
To help you while you’re checking your moles, use the ABCDE rule to give you
objective criteria to help you figure out if a mole’s suspicious, and if
you then should get that particular mole checked by a dermatologist.
I’ll explain all the very helpful ABCDE rules in another episode, but
the “D” stands for “diameter” which brings us back to the size of the moles.
The “D” rule says that if a mole is larger than a pencil eraser, which
is about 1/4 inch or 6mm, then it should be checked by a doctor. But, that
only tells you that moles bigger than ¼” are more apt to be abnormal;
It doesn’t help you with today’s subject, the tiny much smaller ones.
Well, how small is small? As small as 1mm which is 1/25th of an inch. On
the ruler, this black line is 1 inch, this black square is ¼ inch, and here’s
our pencil, about 1/4 inch or 6 mm. And of course a whole inch equals 25
MMs. Here’s the point: Moles as small as 1mm can already be an early melanoma.
So how small 1 mm? It’s the width of a lower case “o” or “e” in your newspaper,
and that’s really small. In the past 5 years I have diagnosed
more that 20 melanomas as small as 1 mm, but let me reassure you that if in
fact a tiny 1mm mole is a melanoma, it’s almost always completely
curable by a simple surgical procedure. So please don’t ignore your very
small moles or “birth marks”. And for perspective, when I trained in dermatology
in the mid-1970s, the ‘rule’ I was taught was that if a mole
was less than 4mm in diameter (which is one-sixth of an inch), then it couldn’t
be a melanoma. We’ve since learned that that’s wrong, and when it comes
to melanoma, size just doesn’t count.


  • Busy Mama

    I heard that flat moles (which are flush with the surface of the skin) are potentially more dangerous than raised moles, is this true?

  • His Little Pink Sheep

    This is great information Dr. Schultz, esp as we enter high sunshine seasons around the US. Thanks for continuing to keep us aware and informed!

  • mi55m00n

    hello, i was wondering about moles in relation to laser hair removal. As you know sometimes moles can crust over and slough off, my question is if the mole is gone or even looks like a feint freckle does that area still need to be checked for melanoma? And for that matter what happens if you forget where the mole was. i hope you get a chance to answer 🙂

  • Knoxlette

    Folks, please get your annual "mole patrol". My dr. found three last week and removed them. Painless and simple right there in the office and I feel so much better knowing they're off. So, please don't wait.

  • rchiariello

    Now I'm worried! I have 4 larger, flat moles in a cluster on my back and several small ones on my arms (or are they freckles?) I've never thought about them before. I don't even remember when I started getting them. Both of my parents and younger brother have LOTS of these same flat moles on their backs. I also have fair skin and freckles. I'm 22 and never thought about seeing a doctor. Neither of my parents ever talked to me about this! I wonder if they are as uneducated about this as I am!

  • JezebelInHell

    Hello! Can you please do a video about lipomas? I went to my dermatologist and show her my lipomas that i have in my head.. They are small but i think that the did grow the last years.. She said to me that it is nothing and if it disturbs me or get bigger then we can have them removed, but it is not necessary. I am also scared because they are in my head 🙁 Please can you do a video.. I am searching in the internet and i can see that many people have the same problem.

  • Sugar Shadez

    I have a small mole on my face that i've had my whole life. It's said to be a 'beauty mark', but now it's starting to look swolen and it hurts when I press on it. Im also afraid because I saw what I thought was some sort of small zit on it, I poped it and puss came out, then blood. Im very scared. Oh, and im only 14. What is it? DX

  • Mahdi Althurwi

    Me and 1 millimeters melanomas are friends forever. How the heck you are gonna see a 1 millimeter spot on your skin. You need a telescope to point it. I really stopped listening to docs long time ago

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