New moles present biggest threat for skin cancer

By Greg Hamilton • Published: November 15th, 2017
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Fall is here and for many people in the United States, that means the end of the tanning season, time to put away your bathing suits and beach bags. It’s also a good time for people to take stock of their skin, specifically to look for any suspicious spots that could be a warning sign of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. People who have moles on their skin should always check to see if they have changed in any way, but new research indicates that might not be the biggest concern.

Scientists at the University of Modena in Italy reviewed 38 studies comprising more than 20,000 melanomas and found less than a third came from existing moles, while 71 percent appeared on the skin as new spots. This could be a problem, they said, as many people may overlook these while focusing on existing moles and other known spots. New growths need to be detected early because that’s when they are most easily treated. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that people do self-exams for moles and get a partner to help with hard-to-see areas such as the back. You’re looking for any new or suspicious spots but also anything that is itching, changing or bleeding. If you are not sure about something you find, get it checked out by a dermatologist. Remember, not all melanomas are found in sun-exposed skin.

When you restock your sunscreen next spring, get one with an SPF value of 30 or higher but also make sure the sunscreen offers broad-spectrum protection against all of the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. Researchers found only 39 percent of consumers consider broad-spectrum protection when choosing a sunscreen, unknowingly putting themselves at risk.