Moles vs Sunspots

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When you compare moles to sunspots, you will find that they have one worrying similarity.  In both skin conditions, there is a risk of them developing into skin cancer. Skin cancer is a disease in which malignant cancer cells are found in the outer layers of the skin. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the US, affecting more than 1 million people each year.

Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer and in one third of cases, may arise from a pre-existing mole.  Heredity is often an important factor.  Many families have a type of mole known as dysplastic (atypical).  These are thought to be associated with a higher frequency of melanoma or skin cancer so genes would seem to play a role, with some people inheriting a genetic predisposition to the disease. 

A melanoma can arise anywhere in the body and not just where the skin is exposed to the  sun.  For example on the sole of the foot, the palm of the hand or under the nails.  A melanoma is usually dark and can grow quickly, spreading to nearby lymph nodes, or even via the bloodstream to organs such as the bones, liver, lungs or brain.   Sometimes a  melanoma may be flesh-coloured, making early detection and diagnosis difficult. 

The outlook for a melanoma is good if it is found early.  If you have a family history of melanoma and you have multiple moles, it is wise to be examined regularly by  your dermatologist or doctor.   You should also see your doctor if your mole has increased in size recently; your mole has an irregular edge or if the colour of your mole is uneven or irregular.  Malignant melanomas are rare in people with dark skin. Ask your dermatologist about the best benign mole symptom treatment for your circumstances.

However, most moles remain normal benign moles without any problems.  They are usually round or oval and most are no larger than a pencil eraser.  They usually appear as small dark spots or growths anywhere on the body.  Some can be lighter colored or even red.  Some people decide to remove moles because of appearance or if they are getting in the way of shaving (facial moles) or rubbing on clothing (back moles).

Sunspots (also known as actinic keratoses) are signs of sun damage to our skin .  This damage accumulates over some time so sunspots are more likely to appear as we age.  They are also more common in those with darker skin or who tan easily.  The sunspots in darker skins are brown spots and appear on the backs on the backs of our hands and on other sun exposed areas like the upper chest and face. At first these brown spots are small and light colored, but eventually they become a cosmetic problem -- an obvious sign of premature ageing of the skin because of ultraviolet damage from sun exposure or from tanning beds.

Squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs) can  arise from sun spots and this is where the skin cancer problem occurs.  They appear in those areas most exposed to the sun such as the head, neck and upper back and extremities.  As they grow, SCCs can spread to lymph nodes (under the armpits, in the groin or neck) or via the bloodstream to other organs.  For this reason they must be surgically removed or treated with cryotherapy (freezing) as soon as they are detected.

People with sensitive and fair skin are more susceptible to white sunspots rather than brown spots.  Many people experience these white sunspots on their skin during early spring or summer. This condition is aggravated if there is further sun exposure of the affected area of the skin, which is why one needs to treat this disorder. White sunspots on skin if left untreated can make the skin extremely itchy.