Moles, freckles, skin tags & skin cancer

There are several skin lesions that are very common and most often are benign (non- cancerous). These conditions include moles (naevii), freckles, skin tags, benign lentigines and seborrheic keratoses.


Moles are growths on the skin that are often brown or black. Moles can appear anywhere on the skin, alone or in groups. Other common benign (non-cancerous) moles are raised skin coloured lesions called intradermal naevii.

Most moles appear in early childhood and during the first 20 years of a person’s life. Some moles may not appear until later in life. It is normal to have between 10-40 moles by adulthood.

As the years pass, moles usually change slowly. Often, hairs develop on the mole. Some moles may not change at all, while others may slowly disappear over time.

Cancerous moles

A mole or freckle should be checked if it has a diameter of more than 6mm or any characteristics of the ABCDEs (below). A helpful way to remember what to look for is to use the ABCDE method.

  • A – asymmetry
  • B – border irregularity
  • C – colour change
  • D – diameter
  • E – elevated (raised) or enlarged

If you notice any changes to your moles or are worried about them, seek medical advice.

If you see any signs of change in an existing mole, if you have a new mole, or if you want a mole to be removed for cosmetic reasons, seek medical advice.