If you notice that some of your moles have undergone changes in size or shape, you should go see a doctor. Experts warn that in rare cases the changes may signal melanoma, the most lethal form of skin cancer.
Experts also said that it is normal for moles to change over the years, while it is also normal for people with a fair complexion to have more moles than their darker-toned peers. But according to a recent survey, very few people keep an eye on their moles.
The study which involved 476 people revealed that just one-quarter checked their moles at least once a month and 17 percent said they had their moles checked once a year. Study authors argued that the disappointing results are caused by lack of education.
People don’t know how effective skin checks really are, or how often they should be done.
Dermatologists explained that common moles are those we have on our bodies ever since birth or have developed before the age of forty. Many of them either change or vanish as years go by. But the National Cancer Institute researchers found that having more than 50 moles boosts the risk of fatal skin cancer. A healthy person has between 10 and 40 moles.
Experts also caution that some moles may signal melanoma such as those randomly popping up on our bodies or those with and irregular shape. Yet, not even these moles are cancerous, but they do pose a higher risk of cancer than common moles.
Doctors suggests that having at least five of these moles means that the cancer risk is higher than usual. Usually melanomas debut as changing moles, but the non-fatal skin tumors arise from regular skin tissue.
Researchers believe that in some cases people are genetically prone to develop melanoma and should keep an eye on their moles. Additionally, excessive sunlight exposure can also boost melanoma risk, even though in some cases the disease starts on parts of the skin not exposed to solar radiation.
Findings reported in the New England Journal of Medicine revealed that UV radiation including that we get exposed to in tanning salons can cause a mole to morph into melanoma.
Even though the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force didn’t find enough scientific evidence to back the benefits of mole checks in a 2009 report, skin cancer experts still recommend the procedure. They argue that the federal agency didn’t take into account patients with a high risk of developing the disease, and it sifted through data provided only by primary-care providers, not dermatologists.
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