In 2018, it was estimated that about 9,320 people in the United States died from a type of skin cancer called melanoma. About twice as many men died from melanoma compared to women. The leading cause of this serious and deadly skin cancer is exposure to the ultraviolet rays of the sun. It can also be caused by UV radiation in tanning beds. Since one of the first signs of melanoma is a change in mole on the skin, understanding skin moles is very important and can mean the difference between life and death.
What Is a Skin Mole?
A skin mole is also called a nevus and it can be acquired either by being born with it or it develops after prolonged exposure to the sun. This dark spot on the skin is usually about 5 to 6 mm in size. The average number of moles for an adult is between 10 and 40, usually appearing on the arms, legs, and face. Some people even have moles on the palms of their hands or the soles of their feet.
Some might argue that because freckles and moles are both dark spots that contain extra pigment, they are virtually the same thing. This simply isn't true, however, as there are distinct differences between the two. Unlike freckles that appear as flat spots on the skin, moles are usually ever so slightly raised up on the skin. Freckles tend to darken after being out in the sun, while moles stay the same shade. One more important difference between freckles and moles is freckles don't usually pose a threat of cancer like moles do.
What If the Skin Mole Changes?
If a skin mole changes in anyway, it could be a sign of melanoma. A dermatologist might recommend the ABCDE Method when checking for changes in a skin mole. This method involves:
- Evolution (constantly changing)
When any of these changes take place it's always a good idea to make an appointment with physician services that specializes in dermatology and skin care. A medical doctor will be able to determine whether or not the mole needs to be removed.
Mole removal is especially important for those who have other risk factors of getting melanoma, which include having fair skin, having a family history of skin cancer, or having excessive exposure to UV radiation. Those who have had a severe sunburn in the past are also at an increased risk of getting melanoma and should have any abnormal skin moles removed.