More arm moles may indicate higher risk for skin cancer

A new study suggests that depending on the number of moles a person has on their right arm, they may be at a greater risk for melanoma, or skin cancer. More specifically, the study claims that having eleven or more moles could be an indicator of skin cancer. The study was carried out by scientists at King’s College London and recently published in the British Journal of Dermatology.

Apparently, the right arm was the closest predictor of the number of moles on the entire body. And the more moles a person has on their body, the greater the risk for skin cancer. These new findings could help doctors be able to more accurately identify a person’s for developing skin cancer.

The study involved a total of 3,594 women who were all Caucasian, as well as twins. The researchers collected data over a period of eight years which included counting the number of moles on seventeen different areas of their bodies. This method was also performed on a group of about 400 men and women who had skin cancer.

The results of the study showed that women who had more than eleven moles on their right arm were more likely to have over 100 on their entire body. According to the researchers, this was a “strong predictor” of skin cancer. These new findings as to prior research which has found that having ten moles on the arms indicates an 11-fold increase in the risk of developing skin cancer.

According to the lead author of the study, Simone Ribero, of the department of twin research and genetic epidemiology at King's College, ‘the findings could have a significant impact, allowing doctors to more accurately estimate the total number of moles in a patient extremely quickly via an easily accessible body part.’

While this evidence is certainly important to add to what we know about skin cancer so far, this does not mean that people should just be looking at their arms. Skin cancer can develop on any part of the body. It is most commonly found on the legs of women and the trunk of men.

Key skin cancer statistics (according to the Skin Cancer Foundation):

·       Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States.

·       More than 3.5 million skin cancers in over two million people are diagnosed annually.

·       Each year there are more new cases of skin cancer than the combined incidence of cancers of the breast, prostate, lung and colon.

·       One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime.