How Are Moles Evaluated
If you find a mole or spot that has any ABCDE’s of melanoma — or one that’s tender, itching, oozing, scaly, doesn’t heal or has redness or swelling beyond the mole — see a doctor. Your doctor may want to remove a tissue sample from the mole and biopsy it. If found to be cancerous, the entire mole and a rim of normal skin around it will be removed and the wound stitched closed. Additional treatment may be needed.
Looking For Signs Of Skin Cancer
Non melanoma skin cancers tend to develop most often on skin that’s exposed to the sun.
To spot skin cancers early it helps to know how your skin normally looks. That way, you’ll notice any changes more easily.
To look at areas you cant see easily, you could try using a hand held mirror and reflect your skin onto another mirror. Or you could get your partner or a friend to look. This is very important if you’re regularly outside in the sun for work or leisure.
You can take a photo of anything that doesn’t look quite right. If you can it’s a good idea to put a ruler or tape measure next to the abnormal area when you take the photo. This gives you a more accurate idea about its size and can help you tell if it’s changing. You can then show these pictures to your doctor.
Warning Signs Of Skin Cancer To Pay Attention To
According to the World Health Organization , there are approximately 132,000 cases of melanoma and 2 to 3 million non-melanoma skin cancers diagnosed worldwide annually.
Signs of skin cancer can be subtle and difficult to identify, which can result in a delayed diagnosis. Being aware of the 7 most typical warning signs is the best way to prevent the most serious or fatal outcomes of a skin cancer by ensuring its earliest possible detection and diagnosis.
The 7 Signs
1. Changes in Appearance
Changes in the appearance of a mole or lesion is the simplest way to identify that something may not be right. While melanoma is the least common form of skin cancer, it is also the deadliest. Melanoma often appear as regular moles, but usually can be differentiated by some distinct characteristics. Use the ABCDE method to remember and detect these differences:
The shape of the mole or lesion in question does not have matching halves.
The edges of the mole or lesion are not clear. The color seems ragged or blurred, or may have spread into surrounding skin.
The color is uneven. Different colors such as black, brown, tan, white, grey, pink, red or blue may be seen.
If the suspicious mole or lesion changes in size there may be a problem. Increasing is more regular, but shrinking may also occur. Melanomas are typically a minimum of ¼ inch, or the size of a pencil eraser.
ELEVATED moles that seem to stick out further on your skin.
5. Impaired Vision
Recommended Reading: Where Can Melanoma Be Found In The Body
How Is Skin Cancer Treated
Treatment depends upon the stage of the cancer. Some types of treatment include the following:
- Mohs micrographic surgery uses a scalpel to remove the tumor and thin layer of surrounding tissue.
- Excisional surgery involves a surgeon removing the tumor and some predetermined amount of surrounding healthy skin to be sure all cancer has been removed.
- Electrosurgery uses heat to burn the tumor and some surrounding area.
- Cryosurgery involves freezing the tumor and may require multiple treatments.
Radiation therapy or topical therapy can be used for cancers in places that are hard to reach with surgery or for patients who are not able to have surgery.
Who Gets Skin Cancer And Why
Sun exposure is the biggest cause of skin cancer. But it doesn’t explain skin cancers that develop on skin not ordinarily exposed to sunlight. Exposure to environmental hazards, radiation treatment, and even heredity may play a role. Although anyone can get skin cancer, the risk is greatest for people who have:
- Fair skin or light-colored eyes
- An abundance of large and irregularly-shaped moles
- A family history of skin cancer
- A history of excessive sun exposure or blistering sunburns
- Lived at high altitudes or with year-round sunshine
- Received radiation treatments
Recommended Reading: How Long Before Melanoma Is Deadly
Melanoma Can Be Tricky
Identifying a potential skin cancer is not easy, and not all melanomas follow the rules. Melanomas come in many forms and may display none of the typical warning signs.
Its also important to note that about 20 to 30 percent of melanomas develop in existing moles, while 70 to 80 percent arise on seemingly normal skin.
Amelanotic melanomas are missing the dark pigment melanin that gives most moles their color. Amelanotic melanomas may be pinkish, reddish, white, the color of your skin or even clear and colorless, making them difficult to recognize.
Acral lentiginous melanoma, the most common form of melanoma found in people of color, often appears in hard-to-spot places, including under the fingernails or toenails, on the palms of the hands or soles of the feet.
The takeaway: Be watchful for any new mole or freckle that arises on your skin, a sore or spot that does not heal, any existing mole that starts changing or any spot, mole or lesion that looks unusual.
Acral lentiginous melanoma is the most common melanoma found in people of color.
Can You Die From Skin Cancer On Your Head
Yes. You can die from untreated skin cancer on your head.
However, do not panic yet. Most skin cancer on the head or skin cancer on the scalp is highly treatable, especially during the early stages.
If you are still in the earliest stages of treatment, such as for Stage I melanoma, there is a low risk of metastasis or recurrence.
According to Healthline and other sources, the five-year survival rate for the earliest stages of melanoma on the scalp is as high as 97%.
What Are The Risk Factors Associated With Skin Cancer
Here are the common risk factors of this disease:
- UV exposure from the sun or tanning beds. Fair-skinned individuals are more vulnerable due to less melanin.
- Immunosuppressed individuals. One suffering from HIV.
- Exposure to cancer-causing chemicals like arsenic, X-rays, etc
- Individuals suffering from sexually acquired wart virus infections.
- Existing skin cancer patients.
- Older people.
Therefore, from the mentioned points, it is evident that learning about treatment, types, causes and symptoms of skin cancer will help an individual fight against the disease effectively.
Causes And Risk Factors
Researchers do not know why certain cells become cancerous. However, they have identified some risk factors for skin cancer.
The most important risk factor for melanoma is exposure to UV rays. These damage the skin cellsâ DNA, which controls how the cells grow, divide, and stay alive.
Most UV rays come from sunlight, but they also come from tanning beds.
Some other risk factors for skin cancer include:
- A lot of moles: A person with more than 100 moles is more likely to develop melanoma.
- Fair skin, light hair, and freckles: The risk of developing melanoma is higher among people with fair skin. Those who burn easily have an increased risk.
- Family history:Around 10% of people with the condition have a family history of it.
- Personal history: Melanoma is likelier to form in a person who has already had it. People who have had basal cell or squamous cell cancers also have an increased risk of developing melanoma.
The best way to reduce the risk of skin cancer is to limit oneâs exposure to UV rays. A person can do this by using sunscreen, seeking shade, and covering up when outdoors.
People should also avoid tanning beds and sunlamps to reduce their risk of skin cancer.
It can be easy to mistake benign growths for skin cancer.
The following skin conditions have similar symptoms to skin cancer:
Recommended Reading: How To Identify Skin Cancer
Can Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer Be Prevented
There is no sure way to prevent nonmelanoma skin cancer. But there are some things that may help lower your risk for it, such as:
- Wearing sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher
- Not using tanning booths and sunlamps
- Limiting your sun exposure when UV light is strongest, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- Wearing sunglasses
- Wearing clothing to shade your face and cover your body
- Doing skin checks
You may be able to spot skin cancer early when its easier to treat by doing a regular skin self-exam. If you are at risk, see a dermatologist regularly. That may also allow you to detect skin cancers when they’re easier to treat. Become familiar with the way your skin and moles look. Talk with your healthcare provider about any bumps, spots, or other marks that appear on your skin. Show your provider any area of skin that doesnt look normal.
What Is Scalp Cancer
Scalp cancer and scalp cancer symptoms do not exist as a formal medical diagnosis.
Rather, this term generally refers to skin cancer on the scalp, and there are three distinct, common types of cancer this could be.
- Squamous Cell Carcinoma: Squamous cells are essentially the inner lining of the skin. These sit below the dead outer surface and act as a protective barrier for deeper cells.
- Basal Cell Carcinoma: Basal cells sit directly beneath squamous cells. These produce new skin cells.
- Melanoma: Melanoma on the scalp is caused by problems with the melanocytes, which produce the pigment for your skin.
There are also other, rarer types of skin cancer, including Kaposi sarcoma , Merkel cell carcinoma , and sebaceous gland carcinoma .
Skin cancers are often visually distinct, so when attempting to identify them, its essential to understand all of the possibilities. Only a doctor can tell you if something is skin cancer or another condition that is visually similar, but not scalp cancer symptoms.
You May Like: How To Treat Melanoma Skin Cancer Naturally
How Do People Find Signs Of Melanoma On Their Own Skin
Performing a skin self-exam as often as recommended by your dermatologist is the best way. While examining your skin, you want to look for the following:
Mole that is changing in any way
Spot that looks different from the rest of the spots on your skin
Growth or spot on your skin that itches, bleeds, or is painful
Band of color beneath or around a nail
Sore that doesnt heal or heals and returns
The ABCDEs of melanoma can help you find changes to a mole, freckle, or other spot on your skin.
Can Skin Cancer Be Prevented
In most cases, skin cancer can be prevented. The best way to protect yourself is to avoid too much sunlight and sunburns. Ultraviolet rays from the sun damage the skin, and over time lead to skin cancer.
Here are ways to protect yourself from skin cancer:
- Seek shade. Don’t spend long periods of time in direct sunlight.
- Wear hats with wide brims to protect your face and ears.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants to protect your arms and legs.
- Use broad-spectrum sunscreens with an SPF of 30 or higher that protect against burning and tanning rays. Apply the sunscreen 30 minutes before you go outside.
- Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes.
- Use a lip balm with sunscreen.
- Avoid the sun between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.
- Show any changing mole to your healthcare provider.
Read Also: Can Squamous Skin Cancer Spread
Skin Cancer: Know The Symptoms And Attribute
Skin cancer is a disease that affects the skin and is the most common type of cancer in the United States. There are three types of skin cancer which are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma.
Exposure to ultraviolet light triggers the development of skin cancer.
It can also be caused by excessive sun exposure, tanning booths, and other sources of ultraviolet radiation. Anyone can develop skin cancer at any time, even people with dark skin.
The key risk factors for developing skin cancer include having fair skin that doesnt tan easily or freckles having red or blond hair a family history of the disease a personal history from using artificial sources of ultraviolet radiation to treat acne or psoriasis
Not using sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 extensive sun exposure in childhood or adolescence and being over 40 years old.
Melanoma is a specific type of skin cancer that usually develops from cells called melanocytes. Melanocytes produce melanin which protects the body against harmful UV rays from the sun.
UV rays trigger abnormal activity in these cells which can lead to malignant tissue growths or tumors.
This type of skin cancer is more dangerous than other types because its usually very aggressive and can spread to other organs if not treated immediately.
How Is Scalp Cancer Diagnosed
You might go to your doctor if you notice a suspicious spot on your scalp, or a doctor might notice it during a skin check. No matter how the spot is found, skin cancer diagnosis will happen roughly the same way.
First, your doctor will ask you about your family history of cancer, if you spend a lot of time in the sun, use protection in the sun, and if you use tanning beds. If you noticed the lesion, your doctor may ask if youve noticed any changes over time or if its a new growth.
Then your doctor will do a skin exam to look more closely at the lesion and determine if you need further testing. Theyll look at its size, color, shape, and other features.
If your doctor thinks it might be skin cancer on your scalp, theyll take a biopsy, or small sample, of the growth for testing. This testing can tell your doctor if you have cancer, and if you do, what type. A biopsy might be enough to completely remove a small cancerous growth, especially basal cell carcinoma.
If the spot is cancerous but not basal cell carcinoma, your doctor might recommend more testing to see if it has spread. This will usually include imaging tests of lymph nodes in your head and neck.
You May Like: What Does Skin Cancer Look Like On Your Skin
Signs And Symptoms Of Non
Non-melanoma skin cancer usually starts as an abnormal area or change on any part of the skin. How non-melanoma skin cancer looks often depends on the type of cancer. Other health conditions can also look like non-melanoma skin cancer. See your doctor if you have any changes on your skin.
The following are common signs and symptoms of basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma , the most common types of non-melanoma skin cancer.
Basal cell carcinoma usually develops on areas of skin exposed to the sun, especially the head, face and neck. It can also develop on the central part of the body . BCC may appear on the skin as:
- a sore that doesnt heal or comes back after healing
- pale white or yellow flat areas that look like scars
- raised and scaly red patches
- small, smooth and shiny lumps that are pearly white, pink or red
- a pink growth with raised edges and indents in the centre
- a growth that has small blood vessels on the surface
- a sore that bleeds
- a growth or area that is itchy
Squamous cell carcinoma usually develops on areas of skin exposed to the sun, but it can also be found on the skin around the genitals and anus. It can occur on the skin of scars, sores, ulcers and burns. SCC may appear on the skin as:
- a sore that doesnt heal or comes back after healing
- rough or scaly red patches with irregular borders
- raised lumps that indent in the centre
- a growth that looks like a wart
- a sore that is crusty or bleeds easily
- a growth or area that is itchy, irritated or sore
Treatments Of Skin Cancer
Regardless of which of the 3 types of skin cancer you have, there are a number of treatment options available. According to the Mayo Clinic, the best treatment for you will depend on a number of factors, including the size, depth, and location of the skin cancer. Sometimes a combination of treatments is recommended. With all types of skin cancer, early diagnosis and treatment is key to survival, so see your doctor about anything unusual going on with your skin.
Treatment options for skin cancer include:
If youve been diagnosed with skin cancer, you are probably very worried. Most types of skin cancer are very treatable, though. Talk to your doctor about your treatment options as well as your prognosis.
Dont Miss: What Happens If You Have Skin Cancer
Recommended Reading: How To Determine Skin Cancer
Noncancerous Causes Of Skin Rash
While some cancers can lead to a skin rash, rashes can also be caused by a variety of other much less dangerous sources.
Most rashes are commonly harmless and unlikely to cause permanent damage. If you notice an unexplained rash suddenly appearing on your skin, visit a health care provider for advice and treatment.
Who Is At Risk For Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer
A risk factor is anything that may increase your chance of having a disease. The exact cause of someones cancer may not be known. But risk factors can make it more likely for a person to have cancer. Some risk factors may not be in your control. But others may be things you can change.
The most common risk factors for nonmelanoma skin cancer include:
- Greater amount of time spent in the sun
- The use of tanning booths and sunlamps
- Certain features, such as fair skin, light hair , and green, blue, or gray eyes
- Lots of freckles
- HPV infection
- Certain rare inherited conditions, such as xeroderma pigmentosum
Talk with your healthcare provider about your risk factors for nonmelanoma skin cancer and what you can do about them.
Recommended Reading: What Is The Treatment For Melanoma Skin Cancer