‘uv rays’ Tagged Posts

What puts me at risk of Melanoma and considerations for mole removal

Melanoma is the the most aggressive of all skin cancers and the most dangerous.  If left untreated it can cause serious sickness or in extreme cases,...

 

Melanoma is the the most aggressive of all skin cancers and the most dangerous.  If left untreated it can cause serious sickness or in extreme cases, death.  Now the good news is that melanoma is not very common and is easily detectable and treatable by mole removal surgery.  There are some simple warnings signs that you can keep an eye out for.  You can read about these warning signs in a previous post ‘Should I consider mole removal or is my mole normal?‘ and pay particular attention to the acronym ABCD.

What puts me at risk?

There are several things that can increase your chances of melanoma and they can generally be grouped into five categories: sun exposure, skin type, number of moles, genetics and a weakened immune system.  If you have a combination of these categories it increases the chances that you will have to have a mole removal procedure.

Sun exposure

One of the biggest contributors to skin cancer is exposure to the sun’s UV rays.  The affects of UV radiation are most severe at midday when the sun is at it’s brightest.  Here is something that is interesting although a little scary!  If you have severe sunburn as a child it increases your risk of skin cancer later in life.  This is a good enough reason for me to cover up my little boy when we are out in the sun.

Skin type

Fair skinned people are at a higher risk as their skin burns easily and generally these people will also have blond or red hair and blue eyes.  Having a lot of freckles can increase your risk as well because people with freckles burn easily also.  Now if you have darker skin it is unwise to think you can’t get skin cancer because this is just not true!

Number of moles

If you have a large number of moles you are at higher risk.  With such a larger number of moles there is more chance that one of them could become cancerous.  I’ve mentioned this previously but where you live can affect how many moles you will have.  If you live in places with a lot of sun, like Australia, you are going to naturally have a larger number of moles.  A good rule of thumb is between 25 – 40 moles is fine.

Genetics

If anyone in your immediate family; father, mother, siblings, children, has had melanoma it increases your chances by up to 50% compared to a person who has had no family history.  If you’ve ever had melanoma previously it also increases your risk of getting it again which can be quite devastating.  Just when you think you have beaten it you may have to go through it all again not to mention that fact that you’ll probably end up with another mole removal scar.

A weakened immune system

People with weakened immune systems are at a greater risk.  This could be due to certain types of drugs that are being taken to treat cancer or due to viruses such as HIV/AIDS.

Summary

There are several factors that increase your odds of getting melanoma.  If you have any of the conditions mentioned above you should consult your local doctor or see a dermatologist and ask them about removing moles.  It is always better to be safe than sorry!