a special program of the National Emergency Medicine Association (NEMA)

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Week: 587.6 Pt. C 

Guest: Dr. Margaret Tucker, National Cancer Institute 

Topic: Moles reflect melanoma risk 

Host/Producer: Steve Girard 

NEMA: A National Cancer Institute study has shown that the number of moles you have, regular... or large and unusual, has an impact on your risk of melanoma...doctors have been wondering about this for years...Dr. Margaret Tucker is the lead author of the report...

TUCKER: What we found was that people who have an increased number of small ordinary moles are at about a two fold increased risk of melanoma. People who have an increased number of small and large ordinary moles, have about a four fold increase risk of melanoma. People who have one unusual mole have a two-fold increased risk of melanoma. And people who have a large number of these unusual moles have over a ten fold increased risk of developing melanoma.  

NEMA: What do the moles look like?  

TUCKER: These unusual moles that we’re talking about are usually larger than the eraser on a pencil, they have a flat component, they’re irregular in outline shape, they have indistinct borders where the color fades into the surrounding skin, and they usually have multiple colors, ranging from pink to tan to dark brown, all within the same mole.  

NEMA: And what kind of benefits does this information bring?  

TUCKER: One of the important findings from this study is that health care practitioners can now determine by looking at somebodies skin whether they are at a very high risk of developing melanoma. And people who have a lot of ordinary moles probably don’t need this same type of intensive surveillance...as people who have a large number of these unusual moles. And because melanoma has been increasing so rapidly in the last few decades, it’s important to identify a subgroup of patients who would benefit from screening and surveillance so that we can find melanomas earlier when they are easily, surgically curable...before they attain the ability to spread.  

NEMA So, if you have many moles, whatever the type, ask your doctor to check them out while you’re being checked out.  

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...for a look at transcripts of this or past programs, or to find out more about the National Emergency Medicine Association. I’m Steve Girard at The Heart of the Matter.