Signs & Symptoms of Skin Cancer and the Importance of Early Detection

Areas of the body that experience the greatest amount of sun-exposure are the most susceptible to skin cancer, however, it is important to note that skin cancer can occur anywhere on the body, including those areas that receive little or no sun exposure.

Also remember that it is not just fair skinned complexions that are vulnerable; skin cancer can occur in all skin tones. Calabasas Dermatology Center offers more information regarding skin cancer treatment available.

Symptoms of the Most Common Skin Cancers

The most common type of skin cancer is Basal Cell Carcinoma, which typically appears on sun-exposed areas of the body. Common symptoms include pearly or waxy bumps, and flat and flesh-colored or brown lesions, similar in appearance to scars.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma has a higher predilection for non-sun-exposed locations than basal cell carcinoma. Symptoms can include firm red nodules and flat lesions with scab like surfaces.

Melanomas are also very well-known and are sometimes associated with moles or other long existing skin growths that become cancerous. Melanoma develops all over the entire body and can be evidenced by: large spots with surrounding darker spots, a changing mole, asymmetry, and lesions with irregular borders and multi-coloration.

Click here to learn more details regarding the prominent types of skin cancer.

Symptoms of Less Common Skin Cancers

Kaposi Sarcoma

is a rare form of skin cancer composed of blood vessels and presents with red or purple patches located on the skin or affecting mucous membranes. This is most commonly found in those with weakened immune systems and those on immune system suppressors. Men living in Africa or of Italian and Eastern European Jewish heritage are also more affected.

Merkel Cell Carcinoma

can be evidenced by nodules slightly below the skin's surface and beneath hair follicles.

Sebaceous Gland Carcinoma

is uncommon and also can be very aggressive. This type of skin cancer begins within the skin and oil glands. Symptoms include painless nodules, frequently affecting the eyelid area. Often confused for other, more typical, afflictions of the eye area, Sebaceous Gland Carcinoma is usually not detected as early as other types of skin cancer.

The Importance of Self-Exams

The most common form of cancer is skin cancer. It afflicts over 3.4 million people every year in the Unites States alone. However, it is also one of the easiest forms of cancer to treat and beat if it is caught early. Skin cancer that is not detected early and left to progress can lead to serious disfigurement and even death.

When to Self-Examine

Everyone should check their bodies at least once a month for skin cancer. This includes both children and adults. Children should be taught by their parents to examine their own skin, and they should be able to do it on their own by the time they are in their late teens. Self-examination for skin cancer only takes about 5-10 minutes, and that is a small investment of time for something that can save your life.

Potential Warning Signs

When you are checking your skin, it is important to know the warning signs. Even if a spot on your skin does not hurt, it is still important to get it checked out by a dermatologist if it looks suspicious. To know whether something on your skin is suspicious, it is important to know how your skin type affects your vulnerability to skin cancer.

Any translucent, pearl-colored, brown, black, tan or multi-colored new growth on the skin should be viewed as suspicious. Any mole or birthmark that has a sudden change of size or color is definitely suspicious. An irregular outline on a mole or freckle is also another warning sign, as is asymmetry. An occasionally concerning sign is a mole that is more than the approximate size of a pencil eraser. Lesions that stick out like an "ugly duckling" should raise suspicion as well. If any lesion meets these criteria, you should have your dermatologist examine it.

Also, it is practical to inspect your body for sores that are odd or new. Sores that do not heal after three weeks fall under this category. A scab that continually oozes, bleeds, or does not heal should not be ignored either.

Never overlook any of the aforementioned warning signs. Understanding the causes of skin cancer is helpful in effective prevention, but early detection is the key to successful treatment. If you notice any signs, make sure to get your skin irregularity examined as soon as possible with a skin cancer expert at the Calabasas Dermatology Center as soon as possible.

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