Prevention & Recovery

What's your skin cancer risk? Count your moles

Getty Images Image by: Getty Images Author: Canadian Living

Prevention & Recovery

What's your skin cancer risk? Count your moles

Worried about past transgressions in the sun? There is a new way to gauge your risk for skin cancer. According to British researchers, you and your doctor can just take a look at your right arm; the mole count on that skin could help assess your skin cancer risk.

Previous research has shown that only 20 to 40 percent of cases of melanoma (the most serious form of skin cancer) show up in pre-existing moles, but that risk increases by two to four percent with each mole on the body.

The British researchers discovered that by counting the number of moles on your right arm, you can estimate the number of moles on your whole body. Their study, which was published in the British Journal of Dermatology in October 2015, looked at more than 3,500 women from 1995 to 2003 and found that women with more than 11 moles on their right arms were likely to have more than 100 on their whole bodies and were therefore at a higher risk of developing melanoma.

They hope their findings might inspire family doctors to conduct more skin cancer exams, because they'd need much less time to do this assessment, and more exams could mean better detection and treatment. 

Other ways to prevent and detect skin cancer

Currently, our best protection against skin cancer is proper use of sunscreen and other sun safety measures.  

Doctors and patients can also regularly check for signs of skin cancer by inspecting moles for the following criteria, commonly referred to as the ABCs of skin cancer: 
Asymmetrical shape, irregular Border edges, different Colours, Diameter larger than a pencil eraser, and Evolving colour, size or shape. If you notice any of these characteristics, it might be a sign that a mole is not just a mole and you should talk to your doctor. 

Learn more about your skin and how to protect yourself from skin cancer
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Prevention & Recovery

What's your skin cancer risk? Count your moles

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