Moles and Skin Cancer

Moles and Skin Cancer

Harmless moles are originated from melanocytes. Melanocytes form melanin pigment which provides skin its color. Although we blame our genetics and even sun, sometimes melanocytes transform into moles in a way we cannot understand.

Mole Shapes

Normal moles look alike each other. Their color may be brown, black, red and even bluish. They may be flat or elevated from the skin, may be like a circle or be irregularly shaped. The most common moles are round, brown, raised, symmetrical and small. Sometimes puberty, pregnancy and sun may enlarge a mole's size.

Abnormal Moles-Melanoma is a cancer within melanocytes which form the pigments. Some other skin cancers do not spread but melanoma spreads to other regions of the body quickly. Although it is commonly seen on the back of men and, on the legs of women, it may develop in any region of the body.

The Importance of Melanoma

Melanoma is the 8th most common cancer type in USA. Melanoma incidence, which rapidly increased in 20 years, got ahead of other cancer types.

Melanoma Risk Factors

The risk of these factors below is the highest on top and the least on bottom. If you have one or more of these factors, your risk may be high. Changes in shape of a mole: Abnormal Nevus Syndrome a congenital mole which is larger than 15 cm

  • White skin which previously had skin concern
  • Family history of Melanoma
  • Solarium application 10 times or more in a year, before the age of 30
  • Having more than 50 moles
  • Suppressed immune system
  • Getting burned or freckles instead of getting bronzed after sunbathe
  • Melanoma Precautions

    Knowing risk factors very well and staying away from sun. SPF 15 sun protection creams should be applied before going under the sun. If there are some risk factors already, sun protective SPF 30 must be always used.

    Diagnosing Melanoma

  • Asymmetry - draw a line from the middle of the mole and if two sides look different it is an asymmetric mole
  • Border - If the borders are ill-defined
  • Color - Color changes inside the mole is an abnormal indicator. Especially if your other moles are in one color it indicates abnormality. However some people have normal moles in different color. It may still be an indicator of abnormality.
  • Size - Many melanomas grows horizontally before they grow vertically. If there is a mole which grows more than 6 mm it should not be unnoticed.
  • Treatment of Melanoma

    Melanoma and 1 cm healthy tissue around melanoma is removed by a dermatologist. Condition of cancer is guessed by determining how thick cancerous tissue is. Patient is then transferred to oncology