What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Basal Cell Carcinoma
Basal cell carcinoma is a type of skin cancer that can show up on the skin in many ways. Also known as BCC, this skin cancer tends to grow slowly and can be mistaken for a harmless pimple, scar, or sore.
Common signs and symptoms of basal cell carcinoma
This skin cancer often develops on the head or neck and looks like a shiny, raised, and round growth.
To help you spot BCC before it grows deep into your skin, dermatologists share these 7 warning signs that could be easily missed.
If you find any of the following signs on your skin, see a board-certified dermatologist.
Unusual Skin Patch Or Sore
If you noticed a skin growth or sore pop up that doesnt seem to be going away, it could be non-melanoma skin cancer, says the Cancer Treatment Centers of America . Just keep an eye on it: if its changing size and color with time, it might be more than an everyday skin condition that just goes away on its own and should be checked out before it goes deeper into the skin. And for more things to keep an eye on, dont miss the 20 Skin Symptoms That Indicate More Serious Health Issues.
Make A Difference: Start Checking Your Skin Today
People of color have a lower risk than whites of getting skin cancer. But they still have a risk. Monthly skin self-exams can help you find skin cancer early when a cure is likely.
ImagesImages 3 11: Used with permission of Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology:
Images 3, 4, 9, 10, and 11: J Am Acad Dermatol. 2014 70:748-62.
Images 5, 6, 7, and 8: J Am Acad Dermatol. 2006 55:741-60.
Image 12: Image used with permission of the American Academy of Dermatology National Library of Dermatologic Teaching Slides.
ReferencesAgbai ON, MD, Buster K, et al. Skin cancer and photoprotection in people of color: A review and recommendations for physicians and the public. J Am Acad Dermatol 2014 70:748-62.
American Academy of Dermatology. Dermatologists provide recommendations for preventing and detecting skin cancer in people of color. News release issued February 4, 2014.
Gloster HM and Neal K. Skin cancer in skin of color. J Am Acad Dermatol 2006 55:741-60.
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Freckle Or Skin Cancer When You Should Be Worried About Your Skin Spots
Do you have brown spots on your skin?
If youre like most people, your answer is yes.
You either have freckles, moles, birthmarks, or a combination of all three. We dont think much about them. Theyre just a part of the state of our skin. We assume if it was cancer, it would look like it.
But do you know what skin cancer really looks like? Could you tell the difference between a freckle or skin cancer and are you willing to risk it?
How Is Skin Cancer Diagnosed
Skin cancer is often diagnosed by a dermatologist. This is a type of doctor who specializes in conditions affecting the skin. The first steps include getting your medical history and performing a physical exam.
The physical exam will include a skin exam, during which your dermatologist checks your skin for spots or bumps that appear abnormal. If they find an area that has a concerning color, size, or shape, theyll perform a skin biopsy.
During a skin biopsy, all or a portion of the abnormal-looking area is carefully removed using a sterile instrument. Local anesthesia is used to numb the area, so you wont feel pain during the procedure.
The biopsy sample is sent to a lab where its checked under a microscope for signs of cancer. When the analysis is complete, your dermatologist will receive a report of the results, which theyll then communicate to you.
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Skin Cancer In People Of Color
As a person of color, you might question whether skin cancer ought to be one of your top health concerns. If you’re African-American, you may not even think you can getskin cancer. But youâd be surprised.
“Anyone can get skin cancer,” says Lisa Chipps, MD, director of dermatologic surgery at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. It is less common in people of color, but itâs often more serious. That’s because it’s usually found later, when it’s harder to treat.
If you know what to look for and how to protect yourself, you can prevent it or catch it early.
Dark Stipe Under Nail
Skin cancer doesnt just show up in obvious placesit can also be more hidden. Although rare, acral-lentiginous melanoma can show up as a narrow, dark streak under your nail, whether thats your fingers or toes. According to the Mayo Clinic, its something that happens more commonly in African Americans or anyone with darker skin, but its something for everyone to be aware of.
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Other Types Of Skin Cancer
Unusual types of skin cancer include Merkel cell tumors. Merkel cell carcinoma starts when cells in the skin, also called Merkel cells, start to grow uncontrollably. This type of cancer can grow quickly and can be hard to treat if it spreads beyond the skin.
Dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans is another rare skin cancer that begins in the middle layer of skin, known as the dermis. This type of cancer tends to grow slowly and seldom spreads to other parts of the body.
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The Abcdes Of Melanoma
To help people find a possible melanoma on their skin, dermatologists created the ABCDEs of melanoma:
|A is for Asymmetry|
If you find a spot on your skin that has any of the ABCDEs of melanoma, see a board-certified dermatologist for a skin exam.
The following pictures can help you see how the ABCDEs of melanoma can appear on the skin.
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What Is Binge Tanning
Binge tanning is rather like binge drinking, it indicates excessive amounts of sun. This can arise in one of two ways. Overuse of tanning lamps which produce UV light several times stronger than the sun itself. The other form of abuse is exposing milky, white skin to the heat and force of foreign sunshine without any acclimatisation or protection. This is behind the alarming rise of melanoma diagnoses in the UK, noted for its grey, overcast skies and cloud cover. Currently, one woman in her twenties is being diagnosed every day. In the United Kingdom, it is the most common cancer in women under 30, overtaking both breast and cervical cancer according to Cancer Research.
How Can I Help Prevent Sun Damage And Ultimately Skin Cancer
Nothing can completely undo sun damage, although the skin can sometimes repair itself. So, it’s never too late to begin protecting yourself from the sun. Your skin does change with age for example, you sweat less and your skin can take longer to heal, but you can delay these changes by limiting sun exposure.
Maintaining healthy skin
- Stop smoking: People who smoke tend to have more wrinkles than nonsmokers of the same age, complexion, and history of sun exposure. The reason for this difference is unclear. It may be because smoking interferes with normal blood flow in the skin.
- Apply sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 30 or greater 30 minutes before sun exposure and then every 2 to 3 hours thereafter. Reapply sooner if you get wet or perspire significantly.
- Select cosmetic products and contact lenses that offer UV protection.
- Wear sunglasses with total UV protection.
- Avoid direct sun exposure as much as possible during peak UV radiation hours between 10 am and 4 pm.
- Perform skin self-exams regularly to become familiar with existing growths and to notice any changes or new growths.
- Relieve dry skin using a humidifier at home, bathing with soap less often , and using a moisturizing lotion.
- Become a good role model and foster skin cancer prevention habits in your child. Eighty percent of a person’s lifetime sun exposure is acquired before age 18.
Understanding UV index
8-10: Very high
11 or higher : Extreme
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What Causes Skin Cancer
Ultraviolet radiation from the sun is the number one cause of skin cancer, but UV light from tanning beds is just as harmful. Exposure to sunlight during the winter months puts you at the same risk as exposure during the summertime.
Cumulative sun exposure causes mainly basal cell and squamous cell skin cancer, while episodes of severe blistering sunburns, usually before age 18, can cause melanoma later in life. Other less common causes are repeated X-ray exposure, scars from burns or disease, and occupational exposure to certain chemicals.
Ultraviolet A and Ultraviolet B rays also affect the eyes and the skin around the eyes. Sun exposure may lead to cataracts, cancer of the eyelids, and possibly macular degeneration.
What Is Skin Cancer
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the US, and the number of cases continues to rise. It is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal skin cells. While healthy cells grow and divide in an orderly way, cancer cells grow and divide in a rapid, haphazard manner. This rapid growth results in tumors that are either benign or malignant .
There are three main types of skin cancer:
Basal cell and squamous cell cancers are less serious types and make up 95% of all skin cancers. Also referred to as non-melanoma skin cancers, they are highly curable when treated early.
Melanoma, made up of abnormal skin pigment cells called melanocytes, is the most serious form of skin cancer and causes 75% of all skin cancer deaths. Left untreated, it can spread to other organs and is difficult to control.
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Do Lentigines Have Any Connection To White Melanomas
More commonly entitled sunspots, liver spots or age spots, they have no association with the function of internal organs but do have a tendency to appear on older people who have spent a lifetime in the sun for work or leisure purposes. A Lentigo Maligna Melanoma occurs from a pre-existing lentigo, not a mole. These incidences are infrequent, accounting for less than 5% of melanoma cases and have a slow developing propensity. Most prominent on the face or back, in male outdoor workers, they are typically large and flat presenting as either grey or white melanomas.
What Are The Risks Associated With Skin Cancer In Black People
Due to the fact that skin cancer is less common in Black people, some may perceive their risk of skin cancer as low. They may not seek care for potentially cancerous skin changes.
A 2018 study used focus groups to evaluate Black and Latino peoples knowledge and attitudes about skin cancer. Researchers found that:
- Many study participants perceived themselves to have a low risk of skin cancer due to having a darker skin tone or a lack of family history of skin cancer.
- Black participants reported skin cancer symptoms more inconsistently than Latino participants.
- Few study participants reported regular use of sun protection behaviors.
Many times, skin cancer isnt diagnosed in Black people until its later stages. In fact, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, 25 percent of melanomas in Black people are diagnosed after the cancer has already spread to surrounding lymph nodes.
Receiving a diagnosis at a later stage can make skin cancer much harder to treat. It can also negatively impact outlook.
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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.
Could A Pimple Be Skin Cancer
There are some situations where skin cancer may resemble a pimple. According to Dr. Wofford, In the early stages, a lot of skin cancer looks like one tiny spot or bump on the skin, and patients ignore it, assuming it will clear up. These lesions may sometimes look similar to pimples, so its important to seek a professional opinion if you ever have a spot that looks like a pimple but isnt clearing up or changes quickly.
Basal cell carcinoma is the type of skin cancer that most commonly may look like a pimple. The visible parts of basal cell carcinoma lesions are often small, red bumps that may bleed or ooze if picked at. This may look similar to a pimple. However, after its popped, a skin cancer will return in the same spot.
Melanoma lesions most often look like dark spots on the skin, but they can also be reddish colored and appear similar to a pimple. However, unlike pimples, melanoma lesions often have multiple different colors within them and are irregularly shaped.
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Why It Is Done
Radiation therapy may be used:
- If you are older than 60.
- For skin cancers that are too large or deep to be treated with surgery or with surgery alone.
- For skin cancers in places that are hard to treat with surgery, such as the eyelid, ear, or nose.
- For skin cancers that have come back after surgery .
- To relieve symptoms but not to cure the skin cancer .
Can You Get Rid Of Flat Moles
Some moles can be removed using lasers. This is most commonly done with small, flat, non-cancerous moles. During laser removal, your doctor will use bursts of light radiation to destroy the mole tissue. To fully remove a mole using laser therapy, you may need to have two or three treatments.
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Less Common Skin Cancers
Uncommon types of skin cancer include Kaposis sarcoma, mainly seen in people with weakened immune systems sebaceous gland carcinoma, an aggressive cancer originating in the oil glands in the skin and Merkel cell carcinoma, which is usually found on sun-exposed areas on the head, neck, arms, and legs but often spreads to other parts of the body.
Recommendations For Prevention And Early Detection Of Skin Cancer In People Of Color
Prevention is better than cure and more than 90% of skin cancers are preventable . Because many people of color believe that they are not at risk of skin cancer, education through media and doctors offices is extremely important. People of color should perform regular self examination of their skin from head to the toe carefully every month. There are various types of skin tumors, many are benign which include moles , warts and lipomas etc that can develop from different types of skin cells . However, unusual moles, sores, lumps, blemishes, markings or changes in the way an area of the skin looks or feels may be a sign of melanoma or another type of skin cancer or a warning that it might occur. Know your ABCDEs can be a good guide for people of color to detect melanoma at an early stage .
How to Detect Melanoma Source:The Skin Cancer Foundation
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Why Is Skin Cancer Less Common In Black People
To understand why skin cancer is less common in Black people, its important to understand a little skin biology.
Normally, all skin contains a pigment called melanin. However, compared with white skin, black skin has a higher amount of melanin.
Higher amounts of melanin absorb or reflect more UV rays from the sun, helping to better protect skin cells from harm. This level of protection isnt present in white skin, making it more vulnerable to damage from UV rays.
What Is Skin Of Colour
Skin of colour is a subjective term used to refer to a natural skin pigmentation darker than white . When compared against a graded assessment of skin colour, such as as the Fitzpatrick phototypes, skin of colour may refer to skin classified as type IV or higher . In some contexts, skin of colour is also used to describe the skin of different non-white ethnic groups, including those of African, Asian, South American, Pacific Island, Maori, Middle Eastern, and Hispanic descent . See ethnic dermatology.
Should Lymph Nodes Be Removed
If a melanoma spreads beyond its site of origin , the surrounding lymph nodes may become enlarged. In such cases, the lymph nodes should be surgically removed under a general anaesthetic .
Normal, unenlarged lymph nodes may also be tested to identify microscopic spread of melanoma this test is called a sentinel node biopsy and may help in cancer staging .
The Ugly Duckling Method
The ugly duckling method works on the premise that a personâs moles tend to resemble one another. If one mole stands out in any way, it may indicate skin cancer.
Of course, not all moles and growths are cancerous. However, if a person notices any of the above characteristics, they should speak with a doctor.
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Skin Color And Skin Cancer: 3 Things To Know
If you have dark skin, you may think you have natural protection from sunburns, sun damage and skin cancer. But the relationship between skin color and skin cancer is complicated.
People with dark skin may have the misconception that they are immune to skin cancer because their skin has more melanin or pigment, says Ana Ciurea, M.D. While they are less likely to get skin cancer, they are still at risk.
What should darker-skinned people know about their skin cancer risk?
Melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, is much more common in white men and women than in Latinx or Black individuals.
But skin cancer is often detected in those with darker skin at later stages. So, their cancers are less likely to be treated successfully. For example, a recent study showed that only 67% of Black patients were alive five years after their diagnosis, compared to 92% of white patients.
Skin cancer is not harder to detect in people with dark skin. Yet, the lack of awareness among patients and medical care providers, along with the fact that the cancers develop in unusual locations, makes it less likely that cancers will be found.
Skin cancer is highly curable if its found early, says Ciurea. The key is awareness.
What skin cancer symptoms should darker skinned people look out for?
Look for dark spots that increase in size, change size, shape or color, bleed or become painful, as well as:
Do people with darker skin need sunscreen?