Do you have atypical mole on your skin? Trying to decide whether to seek treatment? Ignoring skin moles can kill you.
Common moles pose no threat other than skin discoloration to your appearance. However, dangerous moles – known as irregular or atypical moles – have been identified as precursors to the development of melanoma, a type of skin cancer that can be deadly if it is ignored. Atypical moles should be quickly viewed by a medical professional since it may be an early sign of melanoma. Let’s see why you need to keep an eye on your mole and how to determine if your dysplastic nevus is cause for concern.
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What to look for?
Dysplastic nevus – often known as atypical melanocytic nevus – is an abnormal mole the appearance of which is different from common mole. So, why dysplastic nevi can be dangerous? These irregular moles are the potentially cancerous moles that must be immediately reported to a dermatologist for diagnostic, biopsy, and treatment purposes.
As a rule, atypical moles are characterised by a change in shape, size, color or sensation. When it comes to color, dysplastic nevi can be of different colors from flesh-colored to dark-brown or yellow-brown.
Irregular Moles and Irregular-shaped moles are not uncommon.
They are cause for concern because they fall into the category of atypical moles, which are associated with an increased risk of developing skin cancers.
Here are the following dysplastic nevus characteristics:
- These moles are larger than regular moles, which are often small round dots on the skin.
- These larger, more dangerous moles have a splotchy, multicolored appearance and an uneven shape.
- Atypical moles can be hairy, smooth or warty and can be flat or raised.
Diagnostically, one of these abnormal moles should not be treated as an ordinary mole. Appropriate biopsies should be conducted to determine whether the offending mole is cancerous in order that proper treatment can be started.
Once results are received on the biopsy, treatment choices can be made by the patient in consultation with the attending medical team.
Dysplastic Nevus vs. Melanoma
Tracking individuals who have received a diagnosis of atypical moles reveals that such individuals have a greater corresponding rate of skin cancer. If a person has number of these moles, that individual has the same or greater chances of having skin cancer. If someone has 10 of the moles, that person has at least 10 times the chance of developing a melanoma. Abnormal moles indeed have immediate ties to melanoma and skin cancer.
It is not a secret that about half of the people with melanoma have a huge number of atypical moles on their skin. Individuals who have exceptionally fair skin are at a big risk. Formation of abnormal moles, then, can be used as a predictor or at least an alert for skin cancer during that patient’s life. While that offers a gloomy outlook, it can also serve as a realistic wake-up call to affected patients.
Atypical Moles can turn into skin cancer: The presence of these moles and the propensity to develop moles are predictive of the onset of various skin cancers.
It is unclear what separates the development of benign moles from atypical, cancerous moles. Regardless of cause, the development of these moles serves as an indicator that further action is needed in the long-term management of that patient’s health. Additional diagnostic measures should be provided along with treatment of the existing mole.
Although anyone can develop melanoma, people with a single atypical mole on their skin have a double risk of developing melanoma. The condition of these moles is considered insidious because it is hard to immediately diagnose. The presence of one atypical mole is grounds to suspect imminent growth of another. Finding several of these moles can be indicative that a diagnosis of skin cancer is a future possibility.
Patient recognition of this condition is crucial to early diagnosis, which is important in order to remain vigilant for other signs of melanoma. Skin cancer is usually treatable after early detection. Knowing what to look for aids in an accurate diagnosis and gives the affected individual a better chance to receive the proper therapy.
Dysplastic Nevus Treatment
The inclination to develop these unusual moles means that the individual must be on the lookout for skin abnormalities which need to be reported. Routine self-examination should be conducted by the patient as well as periodic examinations by a medical professional to detect and examine any unusual mole.
As patients are the most familiar observers of their own skin and its coloration, self-screening is the most effective day-to-day response where there is a potential for development of these suspect moles.
Finding one on an individual’s skin could be problematic, but ignoring one or missing one could be deadly. Following a health routine that includes a self-examination for unusual moles could be a life-saving decision, and therefore, worth the effort.
What is atypical mole syndrome?
This is actually a disorder of the skin – when there are more than 50 composed-of-melanocytes moles – present on individual’s skin. This diagnosis is coupled with a family history of skin cancer or another type of cancer. This syndrome is diagnosed in the basis of the number of moles and the family proclivity to develop cancerous growths at the site of the moles.
- Who is at risks for melanoma? People with this serious syndrome are at a higher risk of having melanoma. The risk is increased if 1 or more of their first or second degree relatives were diagnosed with malignant melanoma.
- Should you check your moles for cancer? Upon discovery of an atypical mole, medical advice should be sought. Depending on the condition of the mole, a biopsy must be done to check for cancer.
The individual should go on alert to discern the results of the biopsy, and should remain vigilant to observe changes in the mole. Medical advice should be obtained concerning removal of the mole.
What causes syndrome?
Both, UV radiation as well as genetics plays a great role in development of atypical moles. The main environmental factor affecting moles in general, and which can turn a mole into melanoma, is exposure to sunlight. Unprotected natural exposure, or use of tanning lights both provide unblocked UV rays to hit the skin, causing the skin to first tan, and often subsequently burn.
Repeated periods of exposure/overexposure can damage skin and can cause atypical moles to worsen and change into melanoma, which is a form of skin cancer. Avoiding exposure to UV rays can lessen this threat to skin. Covering up with sunscreen with the appropriate degree of skin protection is another way to protect skin. Avoiding direct, unprotected exposure to the sun’s rays is the most effective way of avoiding unwanted UV exposure.
Awareness of family tendencies for atypical moles to turn cancerous is equally important for affected families. While not strictly an environmental factor in the true sense of the word, it is a genuine familial factor in the mole sufferer’s family and is thus part of his/her “environment.”
Individuals dealing with potential adverse effects of a mole on their skin should avoid direct, unblocked exposure to UV rays or even getting sunburn too frequently.
The finding of an unusual mole should act as a trigger to see a medical professional to have it checked out. A biopsy should follow the initial finding to immediately rule out cancer and other problems.
Quick and early action is advised to get a resolution of the type of the mole involved.
Treatment and Removal
The treatment potential for remedying these atypical moles is good. The earlier they are caught, the more treatable they are. The best and only treatment of an atypical mole is removal from the skin and constant vigilance to detect any recurrence.
Removal of the mole is possible as long as it can be ascertained that the treatment activity will not cause the mole to worsen and spread into melanoma. An oncology specialist focusing on cancer treatment in conjunction with a dermatologist whose emphasis is on cancers of the skin is an ideal medical team to handle the care and eradication of these special moles.
Because there is no reason to treat a mole to save it, the focus must be on the surrounding tissue. If the surgery to remove the mole is disfiguring to the surrounding tissue, a round of reconstructive surgery, including plastic surgery, should be considered. This will prolong the mole ordeal for the patient, but may be able to be accomplished quickly. That will enable the patient to move on with a healthy future, pending any follow-up visits to assess disease progress. Any follow-up can assess the possibility of residual unhealthy cells interfering with recovery.
When performed under safe conditions, mole removal is the standard treatment for atypical moles. That, combined with some types of chemotherapy, or radiation provides an effective deterrent to the unpleasant reality of having such a dangerous mole present on the skin.
Removal of a dysplastic nevus
A medical professional should determine whether you have a moderately atypical mole or a mildly atypical mole after a diagnostic biopsy is performed. That determination will affect the aggressiveness of the treatment. Safely and completely removing a dangerous mole is an effective way of dealing with the insidious invasion of the mole before it spreads on the skin and causes additional complications. Effective removal may require reconstructive surgery to make the former mole site less ugly and to enable it to heal uniformly.
In fact, if you have a dysplastic nevus, it doesn’t mean that it should be removed. The first reason is that very few dysplastic nevus turns into melanoma. The second reason is that even if you remove the mole it would not prevent the development of melanoma. This is why doctors always remove only those abnormal moles that change.