People who have at least 11 moles on their right arm could have an increased melanoma risk, a recent study has shown.
The research, published on October 19 in the British Journal of Dermatology, was conducted by a team of Italian and British experts at King’s College London.
Normally, most Caucasians have a total of around 20 to 30 moles. Prior trials had shown that individuals who have at least 50 moles across their body have a doubled likelihood of developing melanoma, the most dangerous type of skin cancer.
However, it is rather time-consuming and inconvenient to perform a full-body mole count on every patient, and few doctors actually manage to achieve that during annual check-ups, according to a study published in 2013 in the journal Clinical Dermatology.
Now, it appears that scientists have found a solution to expedite this process, without reducing its accuracy or effectiveness.
It was by analyzing 3,694 pairs of white female twins (with an average age of 47) that they determined that the number of moles on one’s right arm can be a strong predictor of malignant melanoma. These results were replicated when conducting another study that included male subjects as well.
Basically, if patients have 11 or more moles on their right arm, each measuring at least 2 mm in diameter, then it’s 9 times as likely that they have at least 100 moles on their body. Consequently, this makes them up to 5 times more genetically susceptible to developing melanoma.
This vulnerability is also closely linked to a higher probability of suffering from other types of cancer, affecting the kidneys, pancreas, breasts of brain.
Based on these findings, researchers point out that it’s essential for people to closely monitor their moles, in order to detect any potential changes in size, shape or color.
These self-examinations should be conducted once every 3 months, using a mirror, and they should focus on any potential asymmetry, border irregularity or change in pigment, as well as on newly elevated moles or on those whose diameter exceeds 6 mm.
As scientists explain, unlike freckles which are lighter in color and may change depending on sun exposure, benign moles usually remain at their initial color (black or brown) and tend to form in the first 20 years of life.
Small congenital moles or those that appear during childhood tend to be less dangerous, whereas those that emerge after the age of 30 or 40 might pose a greater threat.
Therefore, upon identifying an unusual mole with a peculiar evolution or that bleeds on its own, it is highly advisable to immediately contact a dermatologist, researchers insist.
Regular skin cancer screenings are important especially for individuals older than 25, since melanoma tends to be seldom diagnosed before that age. Early detection is vital, given the fact that the 10-year survival rate when it comes to stage 1 melanomas is usually between 86 and 95%.
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