We receive many questions here on SkinCancerConnection ranging from questions from how to check your skin for skin cancer to questions about specific treatments for skin cancer such as Mohs surgery. The best person to ask such questions is going to be your doctor who can offer their medical advice based upon your unique situation. What we can offer here is information, resources, and support so that you can make the most of your doctor visits and also to be an informed and educated patient.
We are fortunate to have the expert advice of Dr. Lawrence Green, a practicing dermatologist in the Maryland area, to help answer some of your skin cancer questions. We have had Dr. Green here before to answer questions about topical chemotherapy creams for skin cancer.
This month’s question comes from member Desiree, who asks this question about moles:
Q: Why do some moles itch, and how long before a dysplastic nevus left untreated will it take to turn cancerous?
Dr. Green answers:
In general, no one knows why some moles itch and others do not. Sometimes, the mole is irritated or rubs against your clothing. But, often this is not the case. One thing to keep in mind is that even though I would recommend getting a mole that itches checked out by your dermatologist, itching is by no means a sure sign that the mole is dangerous.
Dysplastic nevi, or atypical moles, can turn cancerous in a matter of months. On the other hand, dysplastic nevi may never turn cancerous at all. Most often, we do not know why some dysplastic nevi become cancerous and others do not. Genetic predisposition, as well as carcinogen exposure, such as ultraviolet rays from the sun or tanning booths, are two known triggers to make dysplastic nevi become cancerous.
Be sure to examine yourself monthly to check for changes in size, shape, and color of your moles as these are signs of a mole becoming cancerous.
Thank you Doctor Green for answering this question
This is a question many of our members ask because they want to know if they can wait on being seen by a doctor for a suspicious mole. My motto has always been, "When in doubt, get it checked out." Your atypical mole may or may not ever turn cancerous but since there is a risk it is best that you get any worrisome moles or growths checked out by your dermatologist.
In addition, here are some links to further information about atypical moles or dysplastic nevi, warning signs of skin cancer, and the triggers causing atypical moles to turn cancerous.
Information on Atypical Moles
The Warning Signs of Skin Cancer
Triggers for Atypical Moles to Become Cancerous
- Five Easy Ways to Protect Your Skin from Skin Cancer
- More Scientific Evidence Linking Tanning Bed Use with Melanoma
- The Dangers of Tanning Beds: Five Fast Facts
We will be making this a monthly feature where we will take a member question and have Doctor Green answer it. If you have a special question you would like the doctor to answer, please let us know. Remember to be safe, and get any suspicious moles or skin changes checked out by your doctor.