A cancerous mole, or melanoma, is the result of damage to DNA in skin cells. These changes, or mutations, to the genes can result in cells growing rapidly and out of control. Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that occurs when pigment-producing cells known as melanocytes mutate and begin to divide uncontrollably.
How does a mole become cancerous?
Cancer in general results from accumulated genetic alterations that lead to uncontrolled cell growth. Nearly 300 gene mutations have been identified in melanoma, and ultraviolet (UV) radiation has been convincingly implicated in their accrual.
Can normal moles turn cancerous?
Yes, but a common mole rarely turns into melanoma, which is the most serious type of skin cancer. Although common moles are not cancerous, people who have more than 50 common moles have an increased chance of developing melanoma (1).
How do you prevent a mole from turning into cancer?
Limit your exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays
The most important way to lower your risk of melanoma is to protect yourself from exposure to UV rays. Practice sun safety when you are outdoors.
When does a mole become cancerous?
Possible signs of melanoma include a change in the appearance of a mole or pigmented area. Consult a doctor if a mole changes in size, shape, or color, has irregular edges, is more than one color, is asymmetrical, or itches, oozes, or bleeds.
What does Stage 1 melanoma look like?
Stage I melanoma is no more than 1.0 millimeter thick (about the size of a sharpened pencil point), with or without an ulceration (broken skin). There is no evidence that Stage I melanoma has spread to the lymph tissues, lymph nodes, or body organs.
Who gets melanoma the most?
Melanoma is more common in men overall, but before age 50 the rates are higher in women than in men. The risk of melanoma increases as people age. The average age of people when it is diagnosed is 65. But melanoma is not uncommon even among those younger than 30.
Do cancerous moles hurt?
Causes of a painful mole. Even though pain can be a symptom of cancer, many cancerous moles don’t cause pain. So cancer isn’t a likely cause for a mole that’s sore or tender.
Who is more prone to skin cancer?
Skin cancer is more common in fair skinned people because they have less of the protective pigment called melanin. People with darker skin are less likely to get skin cancer. But they can still get skin cancer. Darker skinned people are particularly at risk of skin cancer where the body has less direct sun exposure.
What does Stage 1 melanoma mean?
In Stage I melanoma, the cancer cells are in both the first and second layers of the skin—the epidermis and the dermis. A melanoma tumor is considered Stage I if it is up to 2 mm thick, and it may or may not have ulceration. There is no evidence the cancer has spread to lymph nodes or distant sites (metastasis).
Which moles are cancerous?
Diameter: Cancerous moles can change in size, usually growing larger. If a mole becomes larger than 6 millimeters (one-quarter of an inch), it may be cancerous. Evolving: A change in the appearance of a mole over weeks or months may indicate that it is cancerous.
Can a mole become cancerous without sun exposure?
Melanoma is a type of cancer which usually occurs on skin that has been overexposed to the sun. However, melanomas can also occur on parts of the body that have never been exposed to the sun.