Zero to One Hundred

No matter how many moles. Caucasian African-American Hispanic or Japanese does not matter, you are at risk for skin cancer.

Count your moles.

If you have a total exceeding 50 moles you have an increased risk of skin cancer. Even more than 20 moles on a leg or 11 moles on your right arm there is an increased incidence.

When you have a precancerous mole or atypical or dysplastic mole the odds of developing melanoma increases significantly.

Dysplastic or atypical moles are benign, but can resemble melanoma for the larger size and irregularity of the edges or color.


Do you have any moles that are different from others? Larger than a pencil eraser? Irregular edges? Color that is variegated: not homogeneous throughout?

People with atypical moles occur in 10% of the population.  Especially those who have family members with the atypical mole syndrome have a 7 to 27% increased risk for melanoma.

The risk approaches 100% for individuals who have the atypical mole syndrome with two first-degree relatives ( as a mother and sister) who have had a melanoma.

Any new mole after 40, especially those that do not have any moles, can signal a melanoma.  Most, but not all, melanomas arise as new, not from preexisting moles.

All races develop skin cancer. 90% occur with Caucasians, but darkly skinned individuals, especially those with prolonged UV exposure can develop skin cancer. The palms and soles are the locations where dark skinned individual’s melanoma frequently occur.

Consider these statistics:

*One in five Americans get skin cancer

*One person dies every hour from melanoma

*One person is diagnosed every 8 minutes with melanoma

*Over 4 million cases of skin cancer yearly

*One blistering sunburn increases the risk of skin cancer

*10 or more visits to a tanning booth has an increased risk for melanoma

*Between 40-50% of people older than 65 will develop skin cancer

No matter how many moles. No matter what race or ethnicity. You are at risk for skin cancer.

Be smart, get checked by your doctor and then perform self exams and mole map to detect changes which can assist with early detection of skin cancer.

Gary Lichten, M.D.

Posted in Blog.