Moles – Beauty Marks or Trouble Spots?
Ella Tan | On 31, Jan 2015
3. Moles that appear in adulthood are supposed to be suspicious. Why?
Moles can appear throughout a person’s lifetime. Hormones, sun exposure, genetics all play a part in stimulating growths on the skin. They are not necessarily suspicious, it’s just that skin cancers most often arise in adulthood.
4. Does size matter?
Usually any growths measuring 6 mm or more (or larger than the diameter of a pencil) should be double checked.
5. Are Asians prone to skin cancer as compared with Caucasians? And among Asians, who would be most at risk?
Asians are less prone to getting skin cancers but they definitely can get them.
Pale skin, family history of skin cancers, blistering sunburns in childhood, prolonged sun exposure over many years in adulthood are all factors that predispose for skin cancer in Asians.
Ingesting traditional medications that are contaminated by certain chemicals e.g arsenic can result in skin cancer decades later. Those who ingested well water during the Japanese occupation in Singapore are also at more risk due to chemicals in the water then.
6. We read that in the West, the most common place for a melanoma in men is the back, while for women it’s the lower leg. Does this apply to Asians?
Asians can get them anywhere. The ones we really worry about as they are detected extremely late, are the cancers on the palms and soles and distal limbs (parts far from the trunk).
7. Would too much sun cause a mole to turn cancerous?
Yes UV is an important factor.
8. Is it wise to simply get big moles removed?
Nope, there is no wisdom medically for a mole to be removed unless it is changing, or for cosmetic reasons. If one is born with a large mole (congenital giant naevi), then there is an increased potential for malignant change.
The ABCDEs of moles: