Moles (sometimes referred to as beauty marks) are groups of pigment-producing skin on your body. These spots are extremely common and most people have between 10 and 40 moles on their body. Moles typically appear during childhood and adolescence but can change and shift later in life.
While most moles are the result of genetics, sun exposure can also affect your moles. Sun exposure can cause the growth of new moles or can cause ones you already have to change sizes or color.
If you’ve started to notice abnormalities in moles you already have or you’re over the age of 30 and you’ve noticed new mole growth, you may be at risk for skin cancer. That’s why at Integrated Dermatology of 19th Street in Washington, DC, our team wants you to know what mole changes you need to watch out for to detect any signs of skin cancer early.
There are a few different kinds of moles and each has their own associated cancer risk.
Congenital moles (also referred to as birthmarks) are present at birth and up to 2% of infants are born with them. Congenital moles are at increased risk for developing into skin cancer with a 4-6% lifetime risk.
Acquired moles show up throughout your life and can be anywhere on your body. While they’re usually the result of sun exposure, they don’t put you at a higher risk for skin cancer. However, if you do have over 50 of these common moles, your risk can increase.
This type of mole is larger than a pencil eraser and has an irregular shape. It may have a variety of colors and uneven borders. Atypical moles tend to be hereditary and they can turn cancerous, so it’s important to have them checked out regularly.
It’s important to always be checking your skin for new moles or changes in moles since that can be an early sign of melanoma, a dangerous form of skin cancer. We recommend following the ABCDE guidelines for melanoma. If you notice any of these signs, have your skin checked out right away:
In addition, if your mole is bleeding or itchy or you’ve developed new moles, have our team examine them for skin cancer.
If you have any moles that seem suspicious, don’t wait to have them checked out. Early detection is key for the proper diagnosis and treatment of skin cancer. To schedule an appointment with our team for a skin check, call our office at 202-955-6995 or book one online today.