Why Higher Mole Counts Aren’t the Only Risk Factor for Melanoma


img2Chances are, if you’re someone with a high mole count, you know that you should be diligent about keeping a mole map so that you can track any changes and report those of possible concern to your dermatologist. But what if you have a low mole count? As recent research suggests, those with low mole counts, defined as fewer than 50 moles, have actually been shown to develop more aggressive melanomas than those with a higher count.

Low Screening Rates Could Be to Blame

The study goes on to explain that its results could be due to many factors, one of which being the fact that people with low mole counts simply don’t realize they should be screened. If caught early, melanoma can generally be effectively treated, but if left unnoticed, the disease can be very serious. Thus, it’s crucial to be screened by a dermatologist for skin cancer, even if you have very few moles.

Other Risk Factors at Play

In addition to mole count, there are numerous other risk factors for melanoma that should be considered. These include a family history of skin cancer, UV exposure, fair skin, freckling and a history of immunosuppression. Because these risk factors may or may not be paired with a high mole count, screening is an important preventative measure for everyone.

Warning Signs for Melanoma

Unlike breast and colon cancers, there are currently no universal guidelines in place for skin cancer screening. Because of this, it’s a good idea to know what to look for. Dermatologists recommend checking yourself for the “ABCDEs” of melanoma: asymmetry, irregular borders, change in color, growing diameter and evolution or change of the mole.