Skin cancer symptoms

There are many different forms of cancer in humans, but skin cancer is the most common of them all. Caused mainly from exposure to Ultraviolet light in the sunlight, skin cancer has become a developing concern in many countries all over the world and skin cancer cases are increasing in number every year.

Skin cancer can be of three main types:
1. Basal cell carcinoma
2. Squamous cell carcinoma
3. Melanoma.

In general, non-melanoma skin cancers occur more commonly and are less dangerous compared to the melanoma skin cancer. Over a million people are diagnosed with non-melanoma skin cancer each year and in most cases, they are cured successfully, especially when the case is treated by a doctor before the cancer had the chance to spread out to other parts of the body. Melanoma, on the other hand, tends to spread all throughout the body very quickly and is therefore considered to be the most serious form of skin cancer than can occur.

Cancer usually occurs when normal cells in the body undergo their transformation process where they multiply and grow but without any normal controls. Just like many other kinds of cancer, skin cancers also begin as lesions, which are precancerous. These precancerous lesions are typically changes in the appearance of the human skin, such as a new growth or sores that do not heal, itch continuously or flake off. These are not cancerous initially but they carry the risk of becoming cancerous with time. Medical professionals usually refer to such changes in the skin as dysplasia. Some of these specific dysplastic changes that can occur are given below:

  • A red or brown patch of rough, scaly skin called actinic keratosis that can lead to the development of squamous cell carcinoma.
  • A mole called a Nevus and abnormal moles called dysplastic nevi, which can eventually develop into the dangerous melanoma with time.

Skin that is exposed to too much sun is usually at the risk of developing non-melanoma cancer. The symptoms of non-melanoma skin cancer are quite similar to those of other non-cancerous skin conditions and are as follows:

Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)
A BCC usually looks like a small, raised, smooth, shiny red or pink bump on the skin of the hands, shoulders, ears, head, face or neck that is exposed to the sun.

  • Small blood vessels may be visible within the tumor.
  • A central depression with crusting and bleeding (ulceration) frequently develops.
  • A BCC is often mistaken for a sore that does not heal.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)
A SCC is usually a pink, well defined, red, scaling, thickened lump or patch on sun-exposed skin. These lumps occur most commonly on the neck, face, ears, lips, ears, shoulders, hands, legs and arms.

  • SCCs can bleed easily and ulcerate like BCCs.
  • SCC may become a bigger mass if it is left untreated.

Moving on to discuss the more dangerous form of cancer, it has been seen that the most malignant melanomas come in the form of lesions, which are pigmented, from brown to black.

Some of the symptoms, which may help easy identification, include:

  • Changes in color, shape, elevation or size of a mole.
  • The sides of the lesions are asymmetrical meaning one side looks different from the other side of the lesion.
  • Irregular margins which may be notched – border irregularity
  • Lesions, which are a mixture of colors such as white, red, blue, tan, black or brown.
  • Lesions larger than 6 mm across.

Just remember that any new appearance of a mole, pain, ulceration, itching or bleeding of any sort especially during adulthood may be warning signs of melanoma and should be checked by a doctor immediately.

Keep in mind that whether non-melanoma or melanoma, these growths are usually painless, but they can be painful. Everyone is at a risk of having skin cancer, so it is every individual’s responsibility to be careful and take the basic precautions. Regular self-examination to search for abnormal changes in skin and annual clinical skin exams are highly recommended. Avoid over exposure in the sun and make sure to immediately report any abnormalities in your skin, which lasts longer than two weeks to your health-care providers or dermatologist.

Although recently, early diagnosis and medical advancements have led to improved outcomes when it comes to treating cancer, be well aware of all the symptoms that have been described above and be sure to stay cautious, careful and as safe from cancer as possible by taking the right measures at the right time.

Last updated on Apr 23rd, 2010 and filed under Cancer Research. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

1 Response for “Skin cancer symptoms”

  1. Given that the disease is largely preventable if we take suitable precautions, continuous education of the population as to the risks of skin cancer is a must. With the costs of medical treatment continuing to rise, each of us is best served by trying to reduce our personal risks and those of our children.

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