What are moles?
Moles are caused when there is a concentrated increase in the density of pigment instead of spreading throughout the skin as they usually do. Most moles appear before the age of 30 and often start to fade later in life. It is common for moles to change slowly – change color, becoming raised, or develop hair. Moles are most often benign (harmless), forming because of genetics, hormones, and according to some scientists, the sun.
How do I know if they’re cancerous?
An excellent method is the ABCDE technique with 5 things to check for:
The evaluation technique above can be used for checking for all types of skin cancer.
What are dysplastic nevi?
Dysplastic nevi, also known as atypical moles, are moles that have a different appearance compared to normal moles, with characteristics often resembling cancerous moles. They are not cancerous but have a higher chance than a normal mole to develop into melanoma (one of the three main types of skin cancer).
How are they treated if they’re cancerous?
The standard procedure after being diagnosed with a cancerous mole is to undergo surgery. Most often the procedures remove only the tumor and some surrounding skin and fatty tissue. If cancer has spread, chemotherapy and radiotherapy will most likely also be used.
Can you get them removed even if they’re not cancerous?
Yes, cosmetic mole treatments are possible although these procedures can sometimes be expensive.
Should I be afraid of my moles?
Overall, the chance of any given mole evolving into melanoma is very minimal. Moles are extremely common, and only a tiny percentage of them have the potential of becoming cancerous. There is no reason to be paranoid. Understanding the warning signs can help you identify those few exceptions that could be dangerous.
- Do routine self-checkups once a month using the Mole Evaluation GUIDE
- If you see any suspicious change in your moles, have them checked by a dermatologist immediately
- Depending on your chances of developing skin cancer, see a dermatologist a couple of times a year to get a check-up
Here are 8 risk factors that increase your chances of developing skin cancer:
- Having a dysplastic nevus
- Having more than 50 common moles
- If you’ve already had skin cancer
- If it runs in the family
- Having had severe, blistering sunburns, lifetime exposure to the sun, and a history of tanning
- Sunlamps and tanning booths
- Having fair skin, blue, grey, or green eyes and red or blonde hair
- Medical conditions or medicines that increase your sensitivity to the sun
- And the best way to keep them from becoming cancerous is by practicing safe sun habits (wear sunscreen, don’t go to tanning beds, wear protective clothing, etc.)