Moles and melanomas both develop from the same cell, which produces melanin.

What is the difference between a mole and melanoma? - PICTURE - Women's Health & Fitness

Melanin is the natural pigment that gives your skin colour. There are two types of moles – common and dysplastic.

The former is a perfectly controlled growth and usually pink, tan or brown with a distinct edge. A dysplastic mole is often large, does not have a symmetrical shape and can have two or three colours. Although people with dysplastic moles are at higher risk of developing melanoma, most dysplastic moles do not turn into melanoma.

Why is melanoma so dangerous?

The difference with melanoma is that it’s a wild beast. It is a malignancy (a cancer) that starts in the pigment cells of the skin. These cancerous cells can escape and be carried to other parts of the body in blood or lymph vessels.

Melanoma is often confused with other kinds of skin cancers: basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). These are much more common and less dangerous.

Pascale Guitera, dermatologist, Melanoma Institute Australia.

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