Difference Between Mole and Skin Cancer

Mole vs Skin Cancer

The skin is the largest organ in the body, and it has several important functions beside aesthetic beauty. It is an organ which synthesizes vitamin D, insulate the internal organs, protect from external elements, absorption, and control of evaporation, and regulate the temperature and acts as a sensory organ. The skin has three discrete layers, which are epidermis, dermis and hypodermis. The epidermis contains cellular layers which act as a protective screen, the dermis acts as a connective tissue barrier, and the hypodermis acts as a cushion of fat. The color of the skin is determined by the genetic makeup (genotype) and expressed through varied distribution of the pigments and the level of activity of the pigment carrying cells through hormonal influences. Out of these melanin is the most important pigment, expressed on the melanocytes. It is important to know the difference between a mole and skin cancer, since people are sometimes frightened into believing a benign condition to be malignant.


Moles or pigmented naevi, are made up of proliferated melanocytes at different layers of the skin. They are usually restricted to the basal layer of the epidermis, and the deeper the cells, bluer the appearance of these naevi. This is a very common condition, and generally a single person has about 20-50 moles, and they usually stop appearing anew after the age of 40. They can be pink to brown and flattened or raised surface. Moles are benign in most instances, which does not need any management unless for cosmetic purposes. Some of them can become irregular, growing outwardly, clustered, or ruptured or haemorragic. This requires urgent attention as they may develop into a malignant melanoma.

Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is a collective term to recognize three separate pathological entities, which cause malignancies of the skin. Basal cell carcinoma is the commonest, while squamous cell carcinoma is of moderate incidence, and melanoma relatively rare. Melanoma is the most lethal of them all. Skin cancers are commoner in Caucasian skin, excessive exposure to sun, age over 40 and a family history of similar malignancies. They are larger, irregular edges with asymmetrical surface distribution. Surgery is the preferred option followed by the specific follow up treatment modality.

Difference between Mole and Skin Cancer

Both these entities have its origin from the epidermis layer of the skin. Moles are for the most part benign, and skin cancer is malignant. Moles can be transformed into melanomas in 10% of the cases. Moles are discrete, small, well demarcated, with flat or elevated surface with no surface anomalies. Skin cancers are large, asymmetrical, with irregular margins and with rupturing or bleeding. Moles need no specific management unless for cosmetic reasons, but skin cancers need surgical interventions with follow up with respective treatment options.

Although moles are benign, if you are suspecting some changes in the mole, like the features mentioned above, consult a doctor and do a biopsy. Skin cancer risk can be prevented by wearing covered clothes to protect yourself from the sun and by using sunscreen which are at least SPF 30.