The results of a recently published study may make it easier for doctors to quickly assess a patient’s risk of melanoma. According to the study, which was conducted by a team of researchers from King’s College London, people with 12 or more moles on their right arm may have a greater risk of skin cancer compared to other people.

Whilst not disregarding other important melanoma risk factors, this is a quick way for GPs to assess a patient’s risk of melanoma by simply counting the number of moles on their patient’s right arm.

Presence of pre-existing moles is one of the first things doctors look for while performing a skin cancer check. The reason for this is that around 20 to 40 percent of melanomas are thought to arise from pre-existing moles.

The research was conducted on a group of 3,594 female twins where specially trained nurses carefully examined 17 areas of the subjects’ bodies. In addition, the team also took some other factors into consideration such as skin tone, colour of the eyes, freckles and hair colour.

Experts involved in the study found that the number of moles on the right arm proved to be a strong predictor of the total number of moles on the subject’s body. It was found that people with seven or more moles on their right arm were at higher risk of having 50 or more moles on their entire body. The research also found that people with more than 11 moles on their right arm had higher chances of having 100 or more moles on their body.

While entire arms were examined for the purpose of the study, the researchers found that it was the area above the right elbow that proved to be a particularly strong indicator of the number of moles on the body.

The study helped the researchers to conclude that there exists a strong correlation between mole counts on right arm with total body mole counts. The rationale is that, because 11 or more moles on the right arm is an indicator of 100 or more on the body, this in itself is associated with an increased risk for melanoma.

The research team stated that these findings might make it easier for GPs to identify patients who are at higher risk of melanoma.

However, even though the presence of large numbers of moles indicates a higher risk of melanoma, other risk factors such as red or fair hair, fair skin, light coloured eyes and past incidences of sunburn are also key markers.  Just as important is being aware of what is normal for your skin.

Even though self-examination is important, there is no substitute for a regular consultation with a your SunDoctors’ skin cancer expert.

To arrange for a regular check-up or if you have observed something suspicious on your body, get in touch with the skin cancer experts at SunDoctors. Give them a call on 13SKIN (13 7546) or visit www.sundoctors.com.au for more information.