A person's risk of developing the skin cancer, melanoma, can be determined from the number, size and appearance of moles on their skin, US scientists say. Counting the number of small and large moles and those with a normal or abnormal appearance could provide early warning of the disease, which is the fastest growing cancer, researchers say.
A study of more than 700 melanoma patients treated at melanoma clinics at the Universities of California and Pennsylvania found those with a "substantial" number of small moles, less than five millimetres across, had a doubled risk of the disease and those with a substantial number of small and large moles - more than eight millimetres across - had a four-fold increased risk. One abnormal mole - with an irregular or indistinct outline - was associated with a two-fold risk, while 10 or more indicated a 12-fold increased risk. Jeremy Laurance