Moles and Skin Cancer, What You Should Know

Moles and Skin Cancer, What You Should Know

Learning to tell the difference between normal moles and those that are at high risk of turning into skin cancer is not always easy. Fortunately, the majority of moles people have will not develop into melanoma. Only a very small percent of moles are at risk of becoming cancerous. Read on for an overview on methods you can use at home to help tell the difference.

The vast majority of moles are completely benign, noncancerous tumors. The pigment, melanin, that gives skin its color, occasionally becomes altered and become moles. The reason this happens, while not completely understood, is thought to be the result of either genetics or exposure to the sun. It’s very common for moles to come in many different colors. These colors could range from flesh colored, red, brown or even black. While most moles usually remain approximately the same size or shape, there are a few factors, such as pregnancy or exposure to the sun, that may lead to them becoming larger and changing colors.

The medical term for a mole is a nevus and more than one is referred to as a nevi. Typical nevi can come in many shapes and sizes. These are usually but not always symmetrical in shape. They can be round, oval, raised, flat or even irregularly shaped, but with a well defined border. Generally as a rule people who develop moles begin to do so as children or while entering puberty. The presence of nevi on newborns is very rare.

A certain type of mole called a dysplastic or atypical nevi are the type that are much more likely to develop into melanoma. This type is usually larger than typical nevi, being at least 5 mm across or even many times larger. People who have at least five or more dysplastic nevi have a much greater risk of developing melanoma than those who have none. Those that have a high number of dysplastic nevi combined with a family history of melanoma are at an even greater risk. A family history of melanoma is known as FAMMM, which stands for, familial atypical multiple mole melanoma syndrome. Having FAMMM, not only increases the risk of melanoma but is thought to increase the risk of pancreatic cancer also.

Due to the fact that the earlier melanoma is detected, the greater the possibility of treating it successfully there is. It’s very important for people that are at a greater risk of developing skin cancer learn to do self examinations. It’s recommended that self-examinations take place on a monthly basis. Begin by giving yourself a very thorough examination and locating all suspect moles. After that, look for any change in the size, shape or color of those moles that look suspicious. By learning and using the “ABCDE” rules you will know very well what to watch for.

“ABCDE” rule stands for, asymmetry, border, color, diameter, and evolving. Asymmetry is when one portion or half of the mole doesn’t match the other half. The border, or when the edges of the mole become notched, blurred or ragged. Color, is when the shades or colors become different and uneven such as brown, black or tan on a single mole. Diameter, is when the size of the mole has grown larger than previously observed. But even small moles that meet other criteria could be cancerous. Involving, is when any mole you have may have changed in size, color, shape, appearance, or perhaps growing out into a new area of the skin. Other ways moles might evolve after melanoma develops is, they may begin to itch, ooze or bleed.

Moles and Skin Cancer, What You Should Know

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