Home Dermatology Fewer Moles May Mean More Aggressive Melanoma

Fewer Moles May Mean More Aggressive Melanoma

Patients may be less likely to get regular skin exams, advance warning about their risk

THURSDAY, Aug. 20, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Individuals who have many moles are at increased risk for melanoma skin cancer, but those with fewer moles may be more likely to develop a more aggressive form of the disease, according to research scheduled for presentation at the American Academy of Dermatology’s 2015 Summer Academy Meeting, held from Aug. 19 to 23 in New York City.

Researchers analyzed medical records of 281 melanoma patients: 89 had more than 50 moles and 192 had fewer than 50 moles.

Patients with fewer moles had thicker, more aggressive melanoma and were more likely to be diagnosed at a later age than those with more moles. Physicians may be more likely to educate patients with a large number of moles about their increased risk of developing melanoma, study author Caroline Kim, M.D., said in an academy news release. Kim is director of the pigmented lesion clinic at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and an assistant professor of dermatology at Harvard Medical School in Boston.

Biology may also be a factor. “We already know that melanomas are not all the same genetically,” Kim said. “It’s possible that there are different pathways that drive melanoma in these two patient groups, resulting in different degrees of aggressiveness. If patients with fewer moles are more prone to aggressive melanoma, then we need to make sure that they are also being educated and screened, in addition to patients with many moles.”

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