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Low-Risk Moles a Possible Warning for Aggressive Melanoma

Moles in general may serve as an early warning sign for the development of melanoma, a recent study indicates. The researchers, in fact, found that people with low-risk moles seem to have a higher risk of developing aggressive melanoma over time in some cases.

To arrive at those findings, researchers looked at 281 melanoma cases. Of that group, about two-thirds initially presented with low-risk traits, such as fewer than 50 moles, and not atypical moles. Over time, however, these people were much more likely to develop aggressive melanoma than others.

Researchers at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, in fact, found that people with low-risk features were ultimately twice as likely to have advanced melanoma at diagnosis than patients who initially presented with more than 50 moles.

While only a small-scale study, the research does shed light on the need for people to be screened for the potential of skin cancer. Researchers say this is especially so for people who are fair skinned, have a family history of melanoma, have a strong history of sun damage and those who suffer from immunosuppression.

About 73,800 new cases of melanoma are diagnosed in the United States annually. An estimated 9,900 die from the disease each year. People who are at risk for melanoma are urged to speak with their health care providers about the potential for this condition and to have any suspicious moles checked out by a professional.

If caught early, melanoma may often be successfully treated using a variety of techniques. The key, however, is to identify and act upon the condition as quickly as possible. While some risks, such as family history, may not be reduced, people can help themselves avoid this condition by limiting exposure to the sun and taking measures to protect from damaging UV rays when they are outdoors. The vast majority of skin cancer cases are linked to UV damage.

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