12 Moles in disguise
While you might focus on brown or dark moles when you think of skin cancer, there are actually several types that come with their own type of mole or sign. The major types of skin cancer are basal cell, squamous, and melanoma. Basal cell is the most common form (and skin cancer is the most common type of cancer, by the way)—there are 4.3 million cases in the United States each year, the Skin Cancer Foundation reports. Squamous cell is second, hitting another million Americans yearly. Melanoma is the rarest—but the deadliest—type of skin cancer; one in 19 people who get a diagnosis of melanoma will die. (By comparison, one in roughly 300 people die of basal cell or squamous cancers.)
The tricky part is recognizing trouble, says surgical and cosmetic dermatologist Adele Haimovic, MD, an associate at the office of Lance H. Brown, MD. Some melanoma moles can actually be skin-colored or pink—they’re known as amelanotic melanomas. This kind of melanoma is a challenge to recognize because we’re inclined to think it’s just a harmless bump. That’s why it’s important to have regular skin checks by a dermatologist.