MANILA, Philippines – A prominent mole is often dismissed as a “beauty spot” or a “blemish” depending on one’s preference, but a closer inspection of these skin spots can help in early detection of cancer.
Fear not: having moles or melanocytic nevi on our skin is a normal occurrence, but certain growths that may initially resemble an ordinary mole may later on become cancerous growths, Dr. Mamerto Almelor, chief of the Head and Neck Surgery Section at the St. Luke’s Medical Center, said.
To spot these growths, Almelor said there are signs that can help indicate whether a mole is potentially cancerous.
“Ang nunal, benign ‘yun, pero may mga palatandaan na ang isang ordinaryong nunal ay magiging cancer,” Almelor said in an interview on dzMM Wednesday.
“Una, ito ay biglang lumalaki. Kung may nunal kayo sa area na madaling mairita, or exposed sa sunlight, pag biglang lumalaki, ito ay isang palatandaan na baka ito ay cancer.”
While natural-born Filipinos are less prone to skin-related cancer because of their complexion, there is still risk of such cancer to develop, and can be detected early by inspecting moles on the skin.
Another sign that a mole may be cancerous is its shape.
“Pangalawa, ‘yung shape. Usually ang nunal, symmetrical. Kung round, kung hatiin mo sa kanan at kaliwa, pareho sila. Pero pag irregular [ang shape], isa narin ‘yung palantandaan,” Almelor said.
If a mole becomes irritated or has an unusual indentation, Almelor said this is also an indication of a cancerous growth.
“Isa pang palatandaan ay kung nagbabago ang kulay,” Almelor added. “Kung light brown lang, tapos naging biglang black.”
Almelor, alongside Dr. Alfredo Pontejos Jr., chairman of the Academy of Head and Neck Oncology of the Philippines, discussed the signs of cancer risks through moles as a part of their continued effort to raise awareness for lesser known cancers that originate from parts of the human head and neck.
The fourth week of April will mark the annual Head and Neck Cancer Consciousness week.