Moles are very common, and generally benign, but they can also turn into a problem. A mole on the ear or another part of the body that's often exposed to sun could end up being cancerous. Monitor your moles for the signs of skin cancer to make sure that you stay healthy. Early detection and early treatment can significantly improve your chances of recovery.
According to the American Cancer Society, skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in humans. Over a million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed every year in the United States alone–more than the combination of ovarian, breast, colon, lung, prostate and pancreatic cancers. In the past several decades, the number of diagnoses has increased. Left untreated, skin cancer can be fatal.
Moles are very common on the skin, and few of them become cancerous. Most people have at least a few moles somewhere on their body. A mole on your ear might be tiny, or up to about ¼ inch across. It could be flat, raised or start out as flat and eventually raise up. It could be brown, pink, black, or even red or gray. Moles larger than ¼ inch across, or moles that have uneven or strangely colored surfaces may be cancerous, though.
While there are many different types of moles, an individual's moles usually look the same all over his body. If you have one mole that is a strange color, very large, or just looks different from all the rest, have it checked out by your doctor. People with abnormal moles are much more likely to develop melanoma, the most dangerous type of skin cancer.
A mole on the ear is more likely to become cancerous than a mole in a location that's never exposed to the sun. Exposure to ultraviolet rays is a major risk factor for skin cancer. Your risk factor goes up if you spend lots of time outdoors or if you live or vacation at tropical latitudes. Even people who work inside most of the week are at risk if they get a lot of sun on the weekend.
You can reduce the danger of cancer in moles on the face and head by following a few simple rules. Don't spend a lot of time in direct sunlight, especially strong mid-day sun. When you do go outside, wear sunscreen, and make sure you apply it on your ears, scalp and other areas. Reapply the sunscreen every two hours to maintain effectiveness. If sunscreen is not available, choose a hat that shades your ears, face and neck.