Types of Moles to look out for
Below are the types of moles you should look out for. If you notice a mole that resembles any of these, we strongly recommend that you have it looked at and your moles mapped. By using mole mapping, you will constantly be monitoring any changes in the appearance of your moles, allowing early detection of possible skin cancer.
Mole mapping is well recognised as a preventative measure for skin cancer and South African medical aids pay for the mapping as well as the consultation.
The most common precancer mole – (Actinic Keratosis)
Also known as solar keratoses, Actinic Keratosis are lesions that are scaly or crusty. They are caused from the suns UV rays that damage the skin. They typically appear on areas that are exposed to the sun such as the hands, lips, an exposed scalp and the face. The texture is rough; they are elevated and more often than not resemble warts. They are red in colour, but can also be tan, pink and even flesh toned. If left untreated, they can become squamous cell carcinoma, which is the most common form of skin cancer. Some experts believe that actinic Keratosis are the early signs of becoming squamous cell carcinoma.
The most frequently occurring form of skin cancer – (Basal Cell Carcinoma)
This type of mole is abnormal and uncontrolled. They tend to grow or arise in the skins basal cells that line the deepest layer of the epidermis (the outer layer of the skin). There appearance is red patches, pink growths, shiny bumps or even scars and they look allot like open sores. These moles are caused by increased sun exposure and intense UV exposure, and if you don’t have them looked at, they can be highly disfiguring. They also tend not to spread beyond the tumour site. It is only in very rare occasions that the cancer will spread to other body parts and become life threatening.
High risk of developing melanoma – Dysplastic nevi (atypical moles)
This type of mole resembles melanoma. People who have dysplastic nevi have a greater risk of developing single or multiple melanomas. The more dysplastic moles you have the greater the risk of melanoma. Research has shown that those who have 10 or more of these kinds of moles have a 12 times higher risk of developing melanoma than those who don’t have them. These kinds of moles are more commonly found in melanoma patients than in the general population. Research has also shown that 2-8 percent of Caucasians develop these moles, and that it is heredity.
The most dangerous type of skin cancer (Melanoma)
These types of cancerous growths develop when the DNA in your skin cells have been damaged from UV rays from the sun or from tanning beds. This triggers the mutations (generic defects) that direct the skin cells to multiply at a faster rate which then forms malignant tumours. They originate in the pigment-producing melanocytes in the basal layer of the epidermis. Melanoma often looks like a mole, and some develop from moles. The colour of most melanomas are black or brown, but they can also be skin coloured, pink, red, purple, blue and white.
The second most common form of skin cancer (Squamous Cell Carcinoma)
These are uncontrolled, abnormal cells that arise in the squamous cells, which compose most of the upper layers of the epidermis. Their appearance is often scaly red patches, open sores, prominent growths with central depression or warts. They could start to bleed or form a crust. Squamous Cell Carcinoma are caused from UV rays over the course of a lifetime. If you don’t have it taken care of it will become disfiguring and deadly. In South Africa, studies have shown that 700,000 cases are diagnosed annually and of that total, approximately 2,500 people pass away.