Mole Removal: the only way to lower the spread of Skin Cancer but raise life expectancy

The warning signs…Your Questions Answered by the Surgeons at Aurora Clinics

Each and every one of us has blemishes on our skin, in the form of freckles moles, birth marks and spots: some people have more than others. On average, we have around 25 moles throughout our bodies although this number can increase or decrease from person to person.

With this in mind, it is important that we examine ourselves on a regular basis so as we become familiar with the moles that we already have and aware of any new ones.

Moles are a unique feature in human beings as they are scattered in so many different ways, they are part of our make-up and nearly always non-cancerous. If however any moles show a change in size, appearance or display symptoms such as itching or bleeding there is a chance that they could become cancerous.

There are many types of skin cancer ranging from very benign through to more serious types. Let’’s take a look at some of the signs and symptoms.

The safest type is also the most common one is known as a basal cell carcinoma (BCC) or a rodent ulcer. This type of skin cancer can generally occur on sun exposed areas such as the face, head or neck and is thought to be caused by strong exposure to the sun during the teenage years and twenties.

This is particularly common in countries where fair skinned people are subjected to excessive amounts of sun such as Australia and New Zealand. It is also found in European countries where high levels of UV rays can cause such damage. Therefore, Europeans who worked in hot climates during their youth could become vulnerable to a BCC in later life.

Basal cell carcinomas tend to appear as smooth, shiny, wax like bumps which are white, red or pink in colour and enlarge slowly over time. They hardly ever spread around the body and once removed are very unlikely to recur.

Someone who has had a BCC in the past is more at risk of developing a further one. However, mole removal is an effective way of treating this cancer without any further problems.

The second most common form of skin cancer is a squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). Again, this type of cancer tends to appear on parts of the body which have been exposed to the sun such as the face, lips, neck, scalp, ears and back of hands.

It is a by-product of long term exposure to the sun and is likely to remain dormant during the late teens or twenties and surface during middle or old age. SCC’s can spread around the body if not detected quickly but during the early stages, they tend to stay relatively small and confined to one region.

A squamos cell carcinoma appears as a crusty or scaly base of reddened skin which acts as a base for a growing lesion. The only answer for this type of cancer is mole removal which is then treated with a safe cuff of tissue which is secured around the area.

This region should continue to be monitored for many years afterwards. In some cases squamos cell carcinomas can spread to the surrounding skin or lymph glands in the neck. Therefore, it is important for people who have previously had a SCC to regularly check for swelling in the neck glands.

Melanoma merkel cell tumours

Melanomas are cancers which originate in the pigment cells of the skin (melanocytes). They can appear on any part of the body and are often prevalent in the 45-50 age bracket.

They are common amongst Caucasian people who are fair-skinned, light-haired and have more than 100 moles on their body or have a funny looking mole which stands out from the rest.

The melanocytes are the cells which produce the brown blemishes on our skin known as melanin, which is evident as a raised mole or flat brown freckle. If the pigment cells grow out of control, they tend to produce too much melanin and form a dark coloured tumour known as a melanoma.

Melanomas can spread around the body and are a potentially dangerous form of skin cancer which requires mole removal. Melanin is also responsible for changing the skin from a pale white to golden bronze during a spell in very hot weather. When the body is exposed to UV rays from the sun, the melanocytes secrete an increased amount of melanin which gives the skin its tanned appearance.

Many believe that a sun tan is the sign of good health but it is quite the reverse and provides medical evidence that the skin has been damaged.

Merkel cell carcinomas (MCC’s) are also highly aggressive skin cancers which tend to appear on the face and neck of elderly people. They are often the result of intense sun exposure during the younger years and may require mole removal with utmost urgency as they can spread around the body quite rapidly.

Malignant melanomas are potentially dangerous skin cancers and can arise from a pre-existing mole or from a normal area of skin. They appear as a painless, firm, flesh or red-violet coloured bump which enlarges over a period of weeks and months.

Anyone who suspects that they have a melanoma or indeed a squamous cell carcinoma should have the area thoroughly assessed by a skin specialist who will advise whether mole removal is the best form of treatment.

Generally, mole removal is the easiest way to stop skin cancer before it has a chance to spread. It also increases the chances of a full and complete recovery.

TELL-TALE SIGNS OF SKIN CANCER

The one thing to look out for with any skin lesion is change. Skin cancers can either arise from unblemished skin or from skin which has a pre-existing mole. A mole which has been prevalent since childhood and has shown no sign of change is unlikely to develop into skin cancer. However, a lesion which has changed in colour, increased in size or produced symptoms such as itching or bleeding could become cancerous.

Change in size

Any lesion which increases in size could be cancerous as cancer cells tend to multiply. It is often difficult to tell if a mole is growing, especially if it is seen every day so it may be worthwhile taking a photo of the area. It would also be wise to ask a family member to take a look at any lesions which cause concern.

If a mole has changed in any way, it is highly recommend that an appointment is sought with a specialist skin doctor or plastic surgeon to assess the region and advise whether it could be cancerous and thus treated via mole removal.

Change in colour

If a lesion has changed from a lighter shade to a darker brown or even black, it could be cancerous. The same applies if only a part of it has changed colour and appears darker.

Therefore, it is highly recommended that a consultation is made with a skin specialist to assess the area and advise whether mole removal is necessary, the tissue will then be submitted for analysis.

Change in symptoms such as bleeding and itching

In some cases bleeding and itching can occur if a mole is accidentally scratched or traumatised by clothing such as a bra strap or belt. However, bleeding and itching and a change in sensation can also be a sign that a lesion is becoming cancerous.

If a mole itches, bleeds or has changed in appearance for more than a week or two, an early consultation with a skin specialist is vital to assess the area and advise whether mole removal would be the best option.

It is important to have a lesion checked out by a suitable medical practitioner. Specialist surgeons at: http://www.aurora-clinics.co.uk/ will provide the peace of mind that you need to stay well. It is always better to seek advice straight away as earlier detection is vital for a good outcome. Call us on 01324 578290 today if you would like a Consultation.