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Moles: Monitoring their health and preventing melanoma

In ancient Greece and medieval Europe moles were considered a mark of evil. In ancient China, a mole’s placement could indicate evil (on the bridge of the nose) or a plethora of blessings from a tendency to be talkative to a prediction to bear twins someday.

Fun Facts
If you want to learn more about what the placement of the moles on your body mean, check out chapter five of  “Your Face Tells All: Learn The Wisdom Of The Chinese Art Of Face Reading” written by Erik and Ilona Kanto.

Famous Faces with Moles
Presidents: Lincoln, FDR and Barack Obama
Leading Men: actors Ben Afflek, Robert DeNiro and Clint Eastwood
Leading Ladies: supermodel Cindy Crawford, comedic actress Goldie Hawn and screen icon Marilyn Monroe

Lingo to Know 
Moles (“nevi” in dermatologist speak, or “nevus” if you’re referring to them in the singular form) come in a variety of colors, shapes and sizes.

“Dysplastic” is the technical term for irregular moles – the ones which have a higher likelihood of becoming cancerous, called a melanoma. “Dysplastic Mole Syndrome” is the clinical jargon for a condition where many moles have varied pigmentation and irregular outlines, predisposing them to melanoma.

Checking from A to E 
In the Comprehensive Guide to Skincare, Rebecca Campen offers a five-step checklist for monitoring your moles on a regular basis. Warning signs of possible melanoma are:

A: Asymmetry – when one side looks different than the other.
B: Border Irregularity – jagged edges.
C: Color Changes – developing different colors or totally transforming color.
D: Diameter – growth to the size of a pencil eraser or larger.
E: Evolving Mole – developing a new mole that never existed before.

It’s best to have a partner check your moles with you on a monthly basis. Taking digital photographs can help you easily compare from month to month, especially if you have many.

Maintaining Your Moles’ Health
You should visit your dermatologist annually for a checkup, and visit your doc right away if you notice any changes in the texture, size, shape or color of a mole or if it begins to itch, hurt or bleed. If necessary, your dermatologist will excise (remove with a scalpel after applying an injectable or topical anesthetic) your mole.

Detecting and Treating Skin Cancer 
Generally, it is advised to send excised moles to a laboratory for pathology examination and analysis. If melanoma is detected, further testing is performed to determine the depth of the cancer. Further treatment is typically necessary if melanoma spreads beyond the upper layer, called the epidermis, into the lower dermis level.

It’s important to be vigilant in monitoring your moles’ condition – although 95 percent of melanoma cases are curable, it can easily spread to other areas of the body and then turn deadly. Following a positive biopsy result, the surgeon may remove further tissue from the area where the mole was initially removed to fully eradicate the cancerous matter. The physicians follow up treatment plan may also include chemotherapy.

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Lauren Stewart
By: Lauren Stewart

Lauren Stewart is a freelancer writer from Michigan. She enjoys writing about beauty, health and fitness! She is passionate about learning new ways to take control of her health and wellness and is a makeup and skincare junkie! You can contact her by emailing