Pigment cells can cause common but potentially cancerous skin growths called moles.

Moles are growths on the skin. They occur when pigment cells in the skin, called melanocytes, grow in clusters. Moles are very common. Most people have between 10 and 40 moles. A person may develop new moles from time to time, usually until about age 40. In older people, they tend to fade away.

Moles are usually pink, tan or brown. They can be flat or raised. They are usually round or oval and no larger than a pencil eraser.

About one out of every 10 people has at least one unusual (or atypical) mole that looks different from an ordinary mole. They are called dysplastic nevi. They may be more likely than ordinary moles to develop into melanoma, a type of skin cancer. An Ohio State dermatologist can check your moles if they look unusual, grow larger, change in color or outline, or in any other way.

Source: National Institutes of Health: National Cancer Institute

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