21 September 2017Last updated

Features | People

Ask the expert: my moles are a cause of concern

Not all moles in such individuals possess cancerous risk

Dr Ikramullah Al Nasir
28 Aug 2016 | 12:02 pm

I’m a 36-year-old woman of French origin. I have several moles on my body. Some of them have changed recently. I’m told that these might turn out to be cancerous. Should I be worried?

Moles can be deceptive and often display unpredictable behaviour – particularly among Caucasians and those with a personal or family history of malignant melanoma. It’s mandatory that such high-risk individuals be monitored and examined at regular intervals.

Not all moles in such individuals possess cancerous risk. However, attention should be paid to moles that begin to change in size, shape or colour.

In your case since there are changes in some moles, I suggest you consult an experienced dermatologist. 
In addition to a close and thorough clinical examination of your moles, your dermatologist must perform a mole mapping to determine the degree of atypia.

If certain moles are found with significant atypical characteristics, then excisional biopsies of these suspicious moles will be mandatory to rule out malignant melanoma.

In certain cases the biopsy/histopathological reports can be suggestive of a diagnosis of severely dysplastic moles. These moles are likely to be transformed into malignant melanoma in situ (the earliest stage of melanoma), therefore these need to be re-excised with extended free margins to bring the risk to zero.

The mole mappings should be repeated on a yearly or two-yearly interval to compare the changes with the baseline mappings.

Finally, remember that malignant melanoma is a result of the human body’s ‘triangular response’ – genetic vulnerability, excessive sun exposure, and the individual’s immune reactivity potential. Therefore, in cases where all these aspects end up meeting together, malignant melanoma could be an unfortunate outcome.

The only way of prevention is avoidance of excessive sun exposure, and most importantly keep getting regularly examined by your dermatologist for early detection and timely treatment to ensure a complete cure.

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Dr Ikramullah Al Nasir

Dr Ikramullah Al Nasir

is a specialist dermatologist and founder and president of Dermacare Skin Health Services.