Published on Sep 26, 2017 and last reviewed on Sep 07, 2018 - 3 min read
Melanoma is a grave disease that mostly arises from an innocent-looking mole. If a mole is present on the body, here is how you can know if it is just a mole or melanoma. This article sketches the various aspects of the mole, from its morphology to the preventive measures.
A mole or nevus is a black or brown spot present in the skin. It is usually round, has a uniform color with smooth edges, and often measures less than 6 mm in diameter. They are often acquired during childhood or adolescence. Most of them will never cause a problem. If new moles arise with age or there is a change in it, there is always a risk of it turning into a melanoma.
It can occur anywhere in the body, irrespective of if the area is exposed to the sun or not.
Yes, moles have a variety of shapes, and a recurring pattern in a patient constitute 'signature' lesions.
Common mole signatures include:
All the symmetric changes occurring in a mole, such as an increase in size with age, a uniform darkening after sun-exposure or after a chronic trauma, etc., are not signs of malignancy. However, if there is bleeding, ulceration or an increase in number after 50 years of age, then it is a red flag for malignancy.
Patients with the following increased risk factors should be screened annually or bi-annually.
Not all the persons who have multiple risk factors will end up having the disease. It is also possible that melanoma may arise in a person with few or no risk factors. It is significant to know that anyone can get melanoma.
Yes, it can be detected at an early stage. If it is done, the success rate of the treatment is very high (99 to 100 %).
Your eyes and a full-length mirror are all that is required.
In patients with a family history or a history of melanoma, if you find any mole which does not fit into the signature lesion category, a mole having an irregular border to a naked eye, is sore or bleeds, it is always better to get examined by a dermatologist using a dermatoscope.
No, the doctors will not always remove all the moles, as most of them are harmless. By removing few or all of them, the risk of melanoma development does not decrease, and it is also possible for a melanoma to develop de novo (from the beginning).
Certain risk factors like age, gender, family history, etc., cannot be prevented. However, the following precautions can be taken.
For more information consult a melanoma specialist online --> https://www.icliniq.com/ask-a-doctor-online/dermatologist/melanoma
Query: Hi doctor, 21 years ago, my friend had radiation therapy for a very small breast cancer. In the recent years, breast areola becomes dry. Biopsies revealed no cancer. She was followed closely by an oncologist and a dermatologist with number of tests. Recently, a mole appeared in the areola region. Th... Read Full »
Query: Hello doctor, I have a question about the biopsy that I had done. It was a shave biopsy, and it came back as melanoma in situ. I got a wide excision done, and it looks like there is still some of this mole left that was missed by the shave. If there was still melanoma cells in this left over part of... Read Full »
Query: Hello doctor, I have speckled lentiginous nevi, also known as nevus spilus. I have had it since I was a baby. I do not know if it is congenital. Ever since I read online that they can transform dangerous, I do not feel comfortable in my own skin. I know the nevus spilus is alright right now. Its ... Read Full »
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