If you’re like thousands of other people around the world, you probably have a mole somewhere on your body. Many moles come either right at birth or immediately following and they are congenital nevus.
There are blue moles, raised moles, moles that are only on the surface of the skin, called junctional moles, moles on the dermis called dermal nevus and moles that have connections to both the epidermis and dermis, called compound nevus. Moles can be brown, black, blue, red, and translucent or flesh tone.
They are large, small, symmetrical and asymmetrical. The can be benign moles or cancerous moles. The problem with all this is that some benign moles have a tendency to become cancerous moles. When a mole shows traits that include a regular border, consistent color, smooth edges, distinct edges and grow larger, they change from common nevus to dysplastic nevi or atypical moles.
These types of moles tend to be the ones that develop into melanoma, cancer. If you checked everyone in the world, you’d find that 5 percent of the people have this type of mole. If you checked people with skin cancer, you’d find that 30 percent of that population had dysplastic nevi. The surface of these moles may even feel “pebbly” or be scaly.
Genetics plays an important role in the development of dysplastic nevi. If your parents had a lot of atypical moles, the chance of you having them also occurs. This may come from the amount of melanin in the skin or the genetic code for the basic cell structure.
Age also plays a role in the development of dysplastic nevi. Things never work as well when you’re old as they did when you were younger, and this is true of the skin cells.
Exposure to sunlight is another cause of atypical moles that tend to develop into skin cancer. While the exact reason is yet unknown, it’s hypothesized that excessive UV rays changes the cellular structure. Scientists already know that it causes premature aging of the skin and damage. There is some evidence that lead scientists to this conclusion without ever having to know the inner working of the sun on the skin cell changes. The first is that unexposed areas, like the rump, seldom have dysplastic nevi.
Secondly, groups of people with more melanin, darker skinned people, usually have fewer moles. The extra melanin deflects the sun’s UV rays. Finally, scientists can draw a conclusion that the sun affects the melanin, the substance in moles, by looking at freckles. The more sun exposure some people have, the more freckles they get.
So, what do you do to insure that you don’t have a cancerous mole? First, if you have a history of skin cancer in your family and a lot of moles, you might want to see a skin specialist. Look for signs that indicate changes in the mole. The signs include a change in the border, the size of the mole, the development of blotchy coloring or change color, change in the border or bleeding. Most melanomas are actually new moles on areas that had no mole prior. The edges are frequently jagged and irregular. Change and bleeding are the key words to remember for cancerous moles.
If you’re uncertain about a mole, never postpone a visit to the dermatologist until you’re certain. Melanoma is a fast spreading cancer and the sooner you identify it, the easier it is to cure.