Our guide to calculating the number of moles on your body

You may have heard (or read it right here) that scientists have discovered a new way to predict your chances of developing skin cancer – by counting the number of moles that you have on your right arm. It seems that the number of skin moles that you have on this one area of your body is a good predictor of the number of moles you will have across your whole body.

The reason the arm has been chosen is that it allows doctors to more easily get a snapshot of the total number of moles a person has. You don’t need to strip off to your underwear – simply remove your cardigan or roll up your shirt and the counting can be done in minutes. You can even get an idea of your own skin cancer risk by predicting the number of moles that you have and then decide if a visit to the doctor is worthwhile.

Just follow our step by step instructions (they really are very simple!):

1. Use your right arm as your test area. This is usually accessible for most people and you can see it easily. It was also identified in both men and women as being highly predictive.

2. Look for moles of all sizes, shapes, and colours. Even if they are tiny (like a freckle) you should count it. You may also see some skin discolorations – take note of them, but it may be tricky to include them in your count unless they are very distinct.

3. Start counting at your wrist and move around the arm and upwards towards the elbow. Count the entire arm up to where it meets the shoulder. If you need to use a mirror to see the back of the arm, you should do so.

4. Take note of the number and then repeat it to be sure.

Types of skin moles and how to know if they’re safe

Less than 7 moles

This number indicates that you probably have fewer than 50 moles over your entire body. This is indicative of a relatively low risk of melanoma, but you should still carefully watch any moles that you do have.

Between 7 and 11 moles

You probably have around 50 to 100 moles on your body. As the figure increases your risk factor increases. So at this level, you should pay even closer attention to the moles you have.

More than 11 moles

You are likely to have more than 100 moles on your body and are therefore in the highest risk group. In fact, your risk factor is 5 or 6 times as much as someone with very few moles. It may pay for you to carefully map your moles and to keep close watch over them – maybe by using a tracking app. You should also mention your results to your doctor so they have awareness.

Skin cancer pictures

Knowing your own body is really important when it comes to the development of skin cancer – so keep an eye on your moles. They really can tell a story!

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