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Low-Risk Moles Still a Cause for Concern, Researchers Say

The connection between unusual or abundant moles and melanoma has long been established. For those who have fewer moles or those moles that are characterized as “low risk,” however, a new study is shedding light on a much higher potential risk than was once thought.

According to researchers at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, people who have “low-risk” moles tend to present with much more aggressive forms of melanoma if the disease does develop. To arrive at those findings, researchers reviewed 281 melanoma cases. The review show that about two-third of people with fewer than 50 moles, a low-risk trait, had melanomas that were much thicker and developed more quickly than others.

With skin cancer considered among the most common forms of the disease in the United States, researchers say the findings are significant. While people with a large number of moles are often urged to undergo screening, those considered “low risk” may miss out on such screenings or not receive education about melanoma at all.

The need for screening of people with fewer moles does exist, researchers say. This is especially so for fair-skinned people, those with a significant history of sun damage and those with a family history of melanoma. People at “low-risk” risk for melanoma who also happen to suffer from immunosuppression should also undergo screening.

The findings out of Boston dovetail with another recent study that showed people with a higher mole count tended to have better five- and 10-year survival rates than those with a lower count. The bottom line, researchers say, is that everyone should be mindful of the potential for skin cancer. Even those with very few moles should seek out screening and advice from their healthcare providers.

Skin cancer is responsible for an estimated 10,000 deaths in the United States each year. The disease strikes both men and women.

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