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Cancerous Moles: Causes, Types, Pictures, Treatment and Prevention

Cancerous moles, or as it is referred to as Melanoma in medical terms, it is a very alarming skin condition that most people are getting worried by it day by day.

By the way,

If you have melanoma and want to know more details about it all you need to do is read the article below.

The information can help you understand more about your cancerous moles.

What is melanoma?

red cancerous moles
Early melanoma irregular in color and shape.

Terms refer to a very dangerous type of skin cancer. This type of cancer can develop on any part of the body since it is associated with skin cells.

The type of cells involved in developing melanoma is called melanocytes.

It is responsible for producing pigments in the skin to protect it from several factors.

What leads to melanoma is the out of control growth of cells that can transfer and spread to other parts of the body from a simple mole [1].

what causes Cancerous moles – melanoma?

There are several causes that lead to melanoma, they are very common and anyone can be exposed to them. Here is a list of those causes.

  • Sunlight

    Sunlight rays are the most contributing factor in developing melanoma. Sun exposure does not cause melanoma directly but rather it works in the long term.

    The more you expose your body to the sun the more your risk of developing it gets higher.

    The ultraviolet rays from the sun start to damage your DNA and by damaging the DNA it means that the cells in your body will get disordered and starts to uncontrollably grow [2].

    Warning: Avoid sun beds and tanning salons, they are as harmful as natural tanning.
  • Genes

    Genes are what you share with your family and close relatives. If a relative of yours suffered from melanoma you’re also at risk of developing it.

    This is mainly due to the fact that if one of your family members or relatives has faulty or dysfunctional genes there is a high possibility that you are going to inherit that from them.

    You should check your family history to know if you have melanoma risk. Another notion is that if your family is known for the fair skin you are also at risk. People with fair skin have less melanin which means no protection system from the sun [3].

Pictures of cancerous moles

If you are doubtful and cannot recognize if your mole is cancerous or not do not worry.

We will be providing you below with helpful visualization which can make things easier for you.

We are providing you with pictures that show the different appearances of cancerous moles. Observe carefully and compare it with yours.

How do I know if a mole is cancerous?

The information and signs listed in the article will help you compare the signs you are noticing on your body.

All you need to do is compare between the two to confirm your condition. However, if you have any doubts or your symptoms are not clear you need to call your doctor and make an appointment for a professional consultation and treatment.

Cancerous moles symptoms

There are not much of symptoms related to cancerous moles or melanoma. However, there is a way that can help you to figure out or notice warning signs about your mole.

You can also start noticing warning signs through irritation

  • Irritation

    Your mole may start to frequently itch, tingle, and even can be painful sometimes. The level of pain differs from a person to another depending on the severity of the mole.

    Sometimes your mole will start oozing and even bleeding.

    Read more: Bleeding Mole: Causes, Treatments, Prevention, and Pictures – Overview

  • Critical signs ABCDEs:

    in order to know that you have a cancerous mole or not there are some signs that can help you. these signs are known by the term ABCDEs and they are 5 important signs your mole shows if it is cancerous.

    Normal mole vs cancerous mole
    Critical signs ABCDEs

    Bellow there an explanation to each element of the signs. read it carefully and compare it to the signs of your mole.

    1. Asymmetry

      If you want to check if your mole is asymmetrical or not all you need to do is the following.

      Bring a pen or something to draw a line with. Draw a line in the middle of the mole like you want to cut it in half.

      If the two sides or halves are identical it means your mole is asymmetrical if they do not match it is not.

      Note: If you notice that the two sides do not match it means you have a sign of melanoma and you need to consult your doctor.
    2. Border

      The shape of your mole should be consistent, smooth, and even. If the border of your mole is smudgy, crusty and uneven it means your mole is harmful and can evolve into melanoma.

      You can notice the shape of the borders by checking if your mole is evenly rounded or not.

    3. Color

      A normal mole typically has one consistent color, if this is your case it is very common and you do not need to worry.

      Moreover what you need to check is if your mole has more than one color, because sometimes one mole develops more than one or two colors at the same time.

      This type of discoloration is another type of melanoma.

    4. Diameter

      Diameter refers to the size of a mole. Common moles have a permanent size that does not change over time.

      Nevertheless, A mole is suspicious if it gets larger and bigger by time in a fast manner. It starts to stick out the skin more sometimes it stretches to other areas of the body.

      Sometimes when the diameter evolves your mole tends to be painful and sometimes bleed and itch
    5. Evolving

      Your mole should be harmless if it does not show signs of evolution over time. However, some moles evolve in size (get larger and bigger) and shape. If your mole spreads on the skin surface as well as elevate more and more by the day it means you have assign of melanoma.

    If your mole appears early in your lifetime, which means before your twenties and starts evolving, this is natural. However, if you notice any new moles appearing in your adulthood years you should consult your doctor as soon as possible. This case often develops into melanoma the majority of times [4].

Types of melanoma

Melanoma has a different type that can range from mid-fatal to extremely-fatal. Down below we will explain the 4 main types of melanoma.

  • Lentigo maligna (5% to 10%)

    lentigo maligna melanomaA type of melanoma that starts as a small and flat mole on the skin that quickly starts to develop until it becomes elevated and discolored.
    The main cause of such type is skin exposure, the more you expose your body the faster it develops. it usually starts on the upper layer of the skin.

 

  • Acral lentiginous melanoma (7% to 10%)

    Acral lentiginous melanomaColored people have higher risks of developing such type. It first starts in areas such as nails. After it, the melanoma starts to develop rapidly perhaps quicker than any other type.

    The developing process starts out on the upper layer of the skin and later goes deeper and deeper into the skin.

 

  • Nodular melanoma (15% to 20%)

    Nodular melanomaThe term refers to melanoma that cannot be noticed until it is a dark large bump.

    You can detect this type only after developing because it shows no signs before. You can only discover it after the bump has formed on areas such legs and scalp. It is the most dangerous type among others.

  • Superficial spreading melanoma (70%)

    Superficial spreading melanoma pictureMost commonly spread type of melanoma. Superficial spreading melanoma is basic and spends a long time developing the upper layer of the skin.

    It starts as a flat mole which slowly evolved into an elevated discolored one and goes deeper into the skin. It does not appear on a particular part of your body but anywhere that is exposed to the sun [5].

Cancerous moles vs Normal moles

Normal moles differ from cancerous ones a lot. Each type has its own characteristics and health consequences. The elements mentioned in the table below highlights the main differences between the two.

Normal Mole

Cancerous Mole

Present at birth Develops in adulthood years
Harmless Dangerous ( leads to melanoma)
The same size over the years Develops in size over the years
One color More than one color
Even borders Uneven borders

 

Do cancerous moles hurt?

Having a cancerous mole means you are a subject to irritation such as itchiness, tingling and yes even pain.

The cause of the pain is the lumps that develop under the skin, scratching your mole and causing it to bleed also can lead to pain. The pain level should vary from person to another based on the severity, type and the location of the mole. It also painful when getting treatment as you suffer from several side effects [6].

Cancerous moles treatment – How can be treated

Cancerous moles are not a simple condition so it needs complex medical attention instead of using conventional treatments. In the list below we will provide you with different common options of treatment.

These options allow you to discover the different option you can treat your melanoma with.

  • Immunotherapy

    This type of treatment helps people who have melanoma by boosting their immune system. So instead of melanoma cells randomly growing and attacking other normal cells, this option helps to avoid such thing.

    The medications used in immunotherapy helps slows the growth of the melanoma cells be backing up the immune system with the protein needed to fight the melanoma. Such solution helps people with melanoma to live longer and have a better defense system against the melanoma.

    The different types of medications used in immunotherapy may have side effects that can be uncomfortable. If you have any inconvenience while using them please contact your doctor to decrease the dosage or stop the treatment.
  • Chemotherapy

    Doctors use Chemotherapy with patients with advanced stages of melanoma. This type of treatment basically intends to eliminate the cancerous cells which already had spread into your system.

    Drugs are the elements used in this case and usually go into the bloodstream in order to kill cancerous cells. So somehow it is an attempt to clean your system from such harmful cells either via pills or injections in order to raise your survival chances.

    Since Chemotherapy uses strong drugs side effects such as hair loss and fatigue along with others may start to appear.
  • Targeted therapy

    Target therapy is still developing in order to work with full effectiveness and fewer side effects. What this treatment does is slow down the melanoma growth and division in your system.

    It also helps prevent any internal factor helping these cells to grow and change, as well as decreasing the growth of tumors that can spread to other organs and body parts.

    Side effects of target therapy are fatigue, nausea, hair loss, headaches…
  • Radiation

    Radiation basically works like chemotherapy. It helps to exterminate cancerous cells. But instead of using drugs to do the job it uses radiation on the outer surface of the skin just above the cancerous areas.

    This treatment does not hurt at all. It is used in order to stop the melanoma cells to spread to other organs and body parts.

    The side effects include hair loss, fatigue, headache, and nausea…
  • Surgery

    Surgery is used to treat your melanoma while it is still in early stages. There are different types of procedures that you can try in order to get rid of such melanoma.

    • Mohs surgery

      This treatment helps you to get rid of melanoma by extracting thin layers of your skin that have cancerous cells. The layers of the skin are very thin and tested once your doctor extracts them. The doctor will keep extracting skin layers until there is no sign of cancerous cells.

    • Wide excision

      Here your doctor will give you local anesthesia and make a wide cut in order to take out the whole tumor and some areas around it. This procedure prevents the melanoma from reoccurring again. Your doctor will stitch the cut after finishing and give you after surgery care.

    • Amputation

      Amputation is performed if your melanoma is located on body parts that can be cut off. This is usually done in order to get rid of the melanoma once and for all.

    • Lymph node dissection

      This operation is done in order to treat melanoma through removing lymph nodes. This solution prevents the cancerous cells to spread through your system to other places.

    • Surgery for metastatic melanoma

      This surgery is done in cases where your cancer has already spread to other organs of your body.

      In other words, this procedure will not cure cancer but it will enhance your chances of survival [7].

The Stages of Melanoma

Melanoma has different stages that determine its severity. Doctors have to surgically cut the skin tissue in order to test it in order to figure out what stage you actually have.

The doctors can discover how fast the melanoma is spreading and what parts is it developing too. Melanoma has five different stages which are:

Stage 0

This stage is harmful because the cancer is not anywhere inside the skin. Instead, you can find it above the skin surface of the skin. Such stage does not lead melanoma and you can treat it using surgery.

Stage 1

Although this is an early stage, doctors can locate the melanoma inside the skin but on the thin layer. Melanoma in this stage can have 2 versions

The first involves nodes and has no ulceration.

The second one is the opposite, so it has ulceration but no nodes involved. Doctors can remove Melanoma at this via surgery.

Stage 2

By this stage, melanoma is still unable to spread to other parts of your body. Your doctor can determine the severity through the thickness. Depending on thickness your doctor can tell if you have stage 3 A, B, or C.

In this particular stage, the melanoma cells go deeper into the skin layers. Your doctor can use surgery to treat your melanoma and can give you other medication to get rid of it forever.

Stage 3

During this stage, the melanoma has already spread to your lymph nodes. Your doctor will specify your stage 3 to either A, B, or C based on the size of the lymph nodes involved. Your doctor can be removed using surgery or can use radiation to get rid of it before it spreads rapidly to other organs.

Stage 4

This is the final stage of melanoma. In this stage, the melanoma actually spreads to other organs and body parts through the bloodstream.

This stage also has different groups the M1a, M1b, and M1c which can depend on the organ or body part the melanoma had spread to.

There are different types of treatment such as surgery, radiation, but your doctor is going to subject you to chemotherapy and immunotherapy in order to attack the melanoma directly [8].

Survival Rates for Melanoma Skin Cancer

Survival rates for people suffering from melanoma vary due to different reasons.

In order to predict your melanoma survival chances, you have to take into consideration your age, your melanoma stage, treatment reaction, race, and even immune system.

Basically,

if your melanoma is between stage 0 and stage 2 you have a high percentage of survival that ranges from  60 percent to 98 percent.

But

If your melanoma stage is advanced from the stage you have from 50 percent till 10 percent depending on the severity of your condition.

This statistics does not have to be similar to your case. It differs from one person to another. Doctors made such predictions to help treat melanoma. The medicine and treatments develop daily and better solutions are being proposed to make the survival percentage higher [9].

How to prevent skin cancer – Melanoma prevention

  • Avoid sun exposure for long periods especially if you have fair skin.
  • Apply sunscreen when you expose your body to the sun.
  • Check your moles regularly for any unusual changes.
  • Do not scratch your moles because it leads to bleeding and infection.
  • Consult your doctor if you have any serious concern.

Conclusion

Cancerous moles are a very serious skin condition. Be aware that you need to take care of immediately.

Do not attempt to treat it in conventional methods, instead make a doctor appointment as soon as you can.

You can treat you cancerous mole if your doctor is able to have an accurate diagnosis and confirms you still in early stages.

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