LIFESTYLE

Majority Of Melanoma Skin Cancer Patients 'Do Not Have Irregular Moles', Study Suggests

03/03/2016 11:12 GMT | Updated 03/03/2016 11:59 GMT

Having a lot of moles on your body has long been associated with melanoma - a type of skin cancer.

But a new study has suggested the majority of melanoma patients have few moles before diagnosis and no irregular-looking moles.

Researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health analysed the moles of more than 500 patients with melanoma to draw their conclusions.

They found that most of the patients (66%) had between 0 and 20 moles. The majority of the patients (73%) did not have moles considered to be atypical in appearance.

moles

In patients younger than 60, having more than 50 total moles was actually found to be associated with reduced risk for thick melanoma.

"Thick melanoma" refers to how deeply the melanoma has grown into the skin and how far it has spread.

However, the study also found that having more than five atypical moles, compared with no atypical moles, was associated with thicker melanoma in patients under the age of 60.

"Several public health messages emerge from our study, including that melanomas are more commonly diagnosed in individuals with fewer nevi [moles] compared with those with a high mole count," the study concludes.

"Therefore, physicians and patients should not rely on the total nevus [mole] count as a sole reason to perform skin examinations or to determine a patient's at-risk status."

Despite the findings, it is still advisable to visit your doctor if you spot a new mole on your body or notice that an existing mole has changed in appearance as according to the NHS, this is often the first sign of melanoma.

Normal moles are usually round or oval, with a smooth edge, and no bigger than 6mm (1/4 inch) in diameter.

Signs to look out for in moles:

:: If they get bigger

:: If they change shape

:: If they change colour

:: If they bleed or become crusty

:: If they are itchy or painful

The NHS says: "See your GP as soon as possible if you notice changes in a mole, freckle or patch of skin, especially if the changes happen over a few weeks or months."

Skin cancer risk factors

[H/T: Eureka Alert]