Moles & Skin Cancer
Common acquired nevi, or moles, are harmless, pigmented areas of skin commonly seen at a dermatologist office. They typically arise during childhood, adolescence or early adulthood and tend to regress with age. Hormonal factors, such as pregnancy or use of certain medications, can cause darkening of existing moles. Nevi that are changing in appearance, enlarging, bleeding, or ulcerating need urgent examination to rule out skin cancer. A dermatologist or cancer specialist is typically consulted.
Skin cancer results from uncontrolled proliferation of skin cells. They are categorized into 2 types: melanoma and non-melanoma. Non-melanomatous skin cancers are more common and include basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Melanoma is rare, consisting of only 1% of skin cancers but is extremely aggressive.
Risk factors for skin cancer include fair skin, family history, certain genes, older age, history of severe/blistering sunburns, and frequent exposure to ultraviolet radiation from sunlight or tanning beds. Immune suppression, certain medications, exposure to ionizing radiation, smoking and longstanding skin disease also increase risk of skin cancer.
Men are more likely to develop skin cancer over head, neck and trunk whereas women are more likely to develop skin cancer on the arms and legs.
A full kin examination, dermatoscopy, skin biopsy and/or excision may be necessary to differentiate a harmless mole from skin cancer. Early diagnosis and treatment is crucial to a favorable prognosis as cancer can metastasize (spread) to the lymph nodes and any organ of the body.
Use the ABCDE rule to determine if your mole needs further evaluation. Is your mole:
A– Asymmetrical in appearance?
B– Border irregular or indistinct?
C– Color changing or variable?
D– Diameter more than 5 mm?
E- Evolving or changing in any way over time?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you need further dermatology evaluation. Call Doctors Dermatology clinic today to schedule a thorough skin exam.