Warm weather means lots of people will be exposing their skin to harmful ultraviolet rays. These rays are known causes of skin cancer and are the reason using sun block is so important-even in the winter. Since, most of us don’t do this every time we walk out the door, it is important to know the signs and symptoms of skin cancer. There are actually several forms of skin cancer and they each have a set of symptoms to look out for.
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer and the 100 percent treatable when detected early. Failure to detect this form of skin cancer can be fatal. Several factor contribute to a risk for melanoma: exposure to the sun, family history and the number of mole on your body. You can use the ABCDE’s to remember the signs of melanoma.
If you look at a mole on your body and draw an imaginary line in the middle, the two halves will not look the same.
The borders of early melanoma are usually uneven and irregular.
If a mole is more than one color it could be melanoma. They could be different shades of brown, black, red or even blue.
Melanoma is usually bigger that the diameter of a pencil eraser. It may start out smaller but it will typically grow to be larger than 1/4 inch across.
If you have a mole that changes at all, you need to call your doctor. It is not normal for a mole to change. It is important for a doctor to examine the mole and perform any necessary tests.
If you have any of the above symptoms, make an appointment with your doctor.
Basal Cell Carcinoma
This is the most common form of skin cancer. More than one million people are diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma each year. It is usually caused by excessive sun exposure and occurs more often in those with fair complexions. Everyone is at risk though and should be aware of the signs.
These sores ooze, bleed or crust, then seem to heal. Soon, they start to bleed again and the cycle repeats.
The patch usually appears on the face, chest, arms, shoulders or legs. The patch may crust, itch, hurt or occur without any discomfort.
This can be pearly or translucent. The color varies but it is typically pink, red or white.
This growth will have an elevated and rolled border. The center will be crusted and indented.
This may look like a scar but does not have the well-defined borders of a scar. It may appear white, yellow or waxy.
If you have any of the above signs, make an appointment with your doctor.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
This is the second most common type of skin cancer, affecting 250,000 new people each year. As with basal cell carcinoma, those with the highest risk are fair skinned and have considerable sun exposure. Again, anyone can get skin cancer. In fact, squamous cell carcinoma is the number one form of skin cancer in African Americans. Regardless of skin color, everyone should know what this form of skin cancer looks like.
Scaly Red Patch
This patch will be persistent with irregular borders that sometimes bleed or crust.
The growth will have an elevated border and the center will occasionally bleed. The growth may increase in size at a fast pace.
This is a sore that bleeds and crusts for weeks.
This growth resembles a wart but crusts and may bleed.
Skin cancer is a serious and potentially fatal disease. Please see a doctor if you think any of the above signs and symptoms apply to you. Early detection could save your life.
“Understanding Melanoma,” The Skin Cancer Foundation
“The ABCDE’s of Melanoma,” The Skin Cancer Foundation
“Basal Cell Carcinoma: The Most Common Skin Cancer,” The Skin Cancer Foundation
“The Five Warning Signs,” The Skin Cancer Foundation
“Squamous Cell Carcinoma: The Second Most Common Skin Cancer,” The Skin Cancer Foundation
“What to Look For,” The Skin Cancer Foundation