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New method improves skin cancer screening
People who have more than eleven moles in one arm could be more prone to developing melanoma. There is a new method that could be used by doctors to more quickly identify the number of moles on the entire body. For this purpose, parts of our body are examined. The liver spots are counted on such so-called “proxy body areas”. The arm is ideal for this.
Counting moles can help identify skin cancer. The amount of moles is the main indicator of skin cancer risk. Twenty to forty percent of melanomas arise from liver spots. For each additional mole, the risk of skin cancer increases by two to four percent, researchers from "Kings College London" suspect. But counting the total number on the whole body takes a lot of time in the screening.
Poor good "proxy area"
In previous small studies, researchers found that just examining certain parts of the body could be enough. The total number of spots can then be calculated from the number of liver spots found. It turned out that for this purpose the arm is particularly reliable to get accurate results.
Nurses searched for the best "proxy area" in nearly 3,600 women
In the Welcome Thrust study, a larger number of participants were examined to find the most useful proxy area. For this purpose, the data of 3,594 female twins were collected. Specially trained nurses counted the liver spots on 17 areas of the subjects. In addition, the skin type, hair and eye color and existing freckles were recorded. The results were then backed up by another study with men and women.
From 11 liver spots on the arm, the risk of skin cancer is significantly increased
The number of liver spots on the right arm is very reliable for predicting the total number, according to the researchers. In women with seven or more moles on their right arm, fifty or more spots were found all over the body. For women with eleven moles in their "proxy area", the number rose to 100 and more. These women were at an increased risk of developing skin cancer. The area above the right elbow turned out to be extremely accurate for the predictions. The number of moles on the legs is also closely related to the total number. In men, the back is also a good "proxy area".
Study results help to improve prevention
The new study published in the "British Journal of Dermatology" builds on earlier work on the "proxy method". This is to determine which location is most reliable for predicting the total number of moles. The difference here is that everything would happen on a much larger scale, says lead author Dr. Ribero from "Kings College London". The results could have a significant impact on primary care. It would then be possible for doctors to determine the total number of moles via an easily accessible part of the body, more easily and more quickly. This would mean that more patients at risk of melanoma could be identified and monitored, the researcher said.
Doctors should be informed of changes in moles
Less than half of all melanomas develop from liver spots, according to the doctor Dr. Claire Ritter from Cancer Research UK. So it is important to know what is normal for your skin type. A doctor should be contacted whenever there is a change in size, shape or color. In principle, not only the arms should be examined, warned Dr. Knight, because melanomas could develop anywhere on the body. (as)