Hi Kristin and thanks for bringing your question to EmpowHER.
First, most moles are normal aspects of the skin and are not dangerous. They develop when skin cells grow in a cluster instead of being spread throughout the skin. Some moles darken after exposure to the sun and during pregnancy.
The vast majority of moles are not dangerous, but it is important to know where they are and be alert, as you have been, for changes. When you notice changes in a mole's height, shape, size and/or color, you should have it examined by a dermatologist. Other indications that a mole should be checked include itching, pain, bleeding or becoming tender to touch.
While there, if you have not already done so, you should ask for a baseline skin cancer check in which the dermatologist will look at all of your moles and other aspects of your skin to see if there are any signs of skin cancer. They can often determine this just by a visual inspection and also have special glasses they can use to take a deeper look at the skin if needed.
If there are any indications of abnormalities the dermatologist may remove some skin, or an entire mole or mass, so that a biopsy can be done in a specialized lab to determine if cancer is present. If cancer is found there are various treatment options available.
Current estimates are that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. Like other cancers, early detection and treatment is the key to survival and minimizing the damage and financial burden.
The American Cancer Society recommends a skin cancer-related checkup and counseling about sun exposure as part of any periodic health examination for men and women beginning at age 20. Those living in states with a significant sun exposure year round, such as Arizona, should take extra precautions including wearing sunscreen year round.
Does that help? Let us know how your appointment goes and if we can help further.