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Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, with over one million new cases diagnosed each year. Thankfully, early detection and treatment can lead to a complete cure.

Presence of moles

Malignant melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer. Melanoma develops from a cell type called a melanocyte. Melanocytes are pigment-producing cells normally present in the top layer of skin, called the epidermis. Melanocytes give us our skin color and cause us to tan in response to sun exposure. Clusters of melanocytes are normally present in the skin and are called moles or nevi.

Moles are very common in the skin and can be flat or raised, pink, flesh-toned or brown. Most moles develop in childhood. Some moles are present at birth and are referred to as congenital nevi. Congenital nevi can be larger and darker than acquired nevi and have a higher risk of becoming malignant melanoma.

Skin Cancer Cases Increasing

Malignant melanoma can be triggered by overexposure to the sun or by inherited genes. Melanoma, unfortunately, is becoming more prevalent in the population. People most at risk for developing melanoma have one or more of the following; light skin and light eyes, a history of severe sunburns, more than 100 moles and a family history of melanoma. However, people of any skin color or ethnic background can develop melanoma.

Skin Biopsy

To find out if a mole is melanoma, your dermatologist will need to examine you. If the mole appears suspicious, a small sample, called a biopsy, will be taken. The sample will be examined under the microscope to determine if it is a melanoma. The good news is that melanoma can be cured if discovered early. Once melanoma has spread, there is little chance of a cure. Please see a dermatologist now if you have moles that have never been checked or about which you have questions.

Please contact us if you have any concerns or questions about skin cancer.

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