Most people have moles. Usually, they look like small, symmetric, round flat or raised spots that are uniform in color. These tend to be normal moles (also called nevi).
But some people have moles that are a little bit different looking. The moles may exhibit what are known as the ABCD's. This stands for:
A: asymmetry - when you draw a line down the middle of the mole, the sides do not match
B: border - the mole is not round; it has an irregular, jagged outline
C: color - there are different shades of brown, tan, black, red in the mole
D: diameter - the mole is larger than 6 mm, the size of a pencil eraser (although they can be smaller)
These moles go by a different name. They are called dysplastic, or atypical, or Clark's nevi. These moles themselves are benign. However, people that have them are at increased risk of developing melanoma, which is the most worrisome type of skin cancer. The more dysplastic nevi someone has, the higher their risk of developing melanoma is.
So what does this mean?
People with dysplastic moles need to be seen more frequently by their dermatologist for full skin exams. They (and everyone else) also need to check their moles for:
E: evolution - the mole is changing - size, color, shape, itching, bleeding, turning black, etc.
This could be a sign of a melanoma and needs to be evaluated right away.
Remember to practice safe sun: wear sunscreen, seek the shade, do not tan outdoors or in tanning booths, and wear sun protective clothing.