Moles are generally benign formations and although they suffer slight changes during a lifetime, as long as their growth is insignificant and takes place at a slow rate without affecting the adjacent tissues, they will not represent a harmful health issue. Dysplastic nevi are also part of the typical moles category, but have suffered in time changes in their shape, size and color, resembling thus the melanoma or in severe cases even becoming cancerous.
Melanoma is a very easily detectable type of cancer and still, until nowadays it has gained a place among the cancers with the highest death rate, developing from altered melanocytes which subsequently become malignant. There are various reasons that cause these alterations: prolonged and excessive exposure to UV and UVA radiations (either voluntarily or involuntarily – when working outdoors and there is no protection insured), sunburns, especially during childhood, a poor immune system, other types of cancer such as leukemia or lymphoma, fair skin or freckles, genetic factors, for example a very rare inherited disease called xeroderma pigmentosum where the organism is incapable of recovering the UV-affected cells.
The symptoms that should be the most worrisomely are those of melanoma. Thus, one can use the ABCDE rules promoted by the American Cancer Society to monitor and evaluate any skin alterations. This can also be done individually, in the comfort of your own home or at the Renew skin & Health Clinic where you can also receive a specialized medical diagnosis. These simple rules refer to:
- Asymmetry – if an imaginary line is drawn through the middle of the mole or the nevi, its halves will not be identical;
- Borders – the margins or borders of the mole are irregular, dentate or serrated
- Color – an uninform pigmentation of the nevi, with light and dark brown shades or black and eventually the appearance of several little red, white and blue lines. Also, the color fades away towards the extremities.
- Diameter – the nevi exceeds 6 mm in size with the typical ones and 20 cm with the congenital moles.
- Evolution – any sudden change that occurs during a relatively short period of time in the aforementioned conditions
Certain medical studies have proved that between 2-8% of the Caucasian population have atypical moles due to a lower quantity of melanin in the skin. Nevertheless, as we mentioned before, genetic factors are also highly important in this case. If there are melanoma cases within the family (2 or more blood relatives), the chances for another member to develop it too are very high.
Other symptoms of atypical moles that can lead to melanoma are the Dysplastic nevi Syndrome and the Familial atypical multiple mole–melanoma Syndrome (FAMMM). This deals with the people having more than 100 typical and dysplastic moles and, above all this, one or more blood relatives suffering from melanoma.
Melanoma can develop on an already existing nevus or on any other skin tag, but can also appear on healthy, lesion-free skin. So, you should see a specialist immediately after you have noticed the first sign of change in a mole in order to clarify the problem, as atypical mole symptoms can easily be mistaken for melanoma and thus treated excessively, or on the other hand, a beginning of melanoma can be mistaken for a dysplastic, but benign nevus and treated inappropriately.
If you have moles or pigmentary spots that you consider dangerous or potentially dangerous, we invite you for a consultation at Renew Skin & Health Clinic.