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Can Skin Cancer Look Like Psoriasis

Other Primary Malignancies Of The Skin

Getting into my skin – Mycosis Fungoides


Kaposi’s sarcoma.

Sebaceous carcinoma has a nonspecific appearance similar to that of a squamous cell carcinoma of the skin, with nodularity, telangiectasias and hair loss .

Sebaceous carcinoma at the outer angle of the left eye.


Sebaceous carcinoma at the outer angle of the left eye.

Malignant eccrine spiradenoma is a slowly growing, deeply invasive sclerotic plaque that occurs on the face of older women. It is often painful .


Malignant eccrine spiradenoma.

Syringoid sweat duct carcinoma is a rare malignant condition that occurs on the face or scalp of elderly patients, causing local hair loss. The surface may be warty and secrete fluid .

Syringoid sweat duct carcinoma. Note the characteristic warty appearance.


Syringoid sweat duct carcinoma. Note the characteristic warty appearance.

Paget’s disease of the nipple appears to be an unresponsive eczema of the areola but actually is a carcinoma in the ducts of the breast that grows outward to involve the skin.

Pigmented lesions that appear suspicious can be evaluated by using the ABCD rules: asymmetry, border irregularity, color variation and diameter 6 mm or greater.14,15 Two other suspicious signs are more rapid growth than other lesions and the presence of a narrow pink halo around the lesion.


Dysplastic nevi cascade.

Psoriasis And Cancer: Whats The Link

Psoriasis is a relatively common, chronic inflammatory skin condition. It is likely caused by genetic predisposition combined with triggers such as infections, trauma, stress, and medications. The classic presentation is itchy, scaly, pink plaques most commonly found on the elbows, knees, and scalp.

In a recent systematic review and meta-analysis of 58 studies published in JAMA Dermatology, researchers found an association between psoriasis and an increased risk of developing cancer.

The JAMA Dermatology study focused on data from previous studies analyzed between April 9, 2018, and February 22, 2019. The researchers found that people with psoriasis had an increased risk of developing cancers including colon, kidney, laryngeal, liver, lymphoma, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, esophageal, oral, and pancreatic cancers. They also found that people with severe psoriasis who developed cancer also had an increased overall risk of dying.

Can Psoriasis Affect Only My Nails

In some cases, psoriasis may involve only the fingernails and toenails, although more commonly, nail symptoms will accompany psoriasis and arthritis symptoms. The appearance of the nails may be altered, and affected nails may have small pinpoint pits or large yellow-colored separations on the nail plate called “oil spots.” Nail psoriasis can be hard to treat but may respond to medications taken for psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis. Treatments include topical steroids applied to the cuticle, steroid injections at the cuticle, or oral medications.

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Looking After Your Skin After Treatment

After treatment, you may need follow-up appointments;with your dermatologist or GP to see if you need any further treatment.

If you had surgery, you;may need to have;any stitches removed at your GP surgery a few weeks later.

After treatment:

  • see a GP;if an existing patch starts to bleed, change in appearance or develops a lump ;do not wait for your follow-up appointment
  • see a GP if you notice any worrying new patches on your skin
  • make sure you protect your skin from the sun wear protective clothing and use a sunscreen with a high sun protection factor of at least 30

Page last reviewed: 21 May 2019 Next review due: 21 May 2022

Itchy Skin With No Rash Is It Cancer

IEC (Intraepidermal Carcinoma)

While itchy skin is commonly associated with rashes, not all rashes are itchy, and not all itchiness is accompanied by a rash. Experiencing itchy skin without visible redness could be a sign of skin cancer.;

Medically known as pruritus, itchy skin without a rash is sometimes a sign of a more serious condition such as skin or liver cancer. To be safe, talk to a health care provider if you experience persistent and unexplained itching.

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Symptoms Of Bowen’s Disease

Bowen’s disease usually appears as a patch on the skin that has clear edges and does not heal.

Some people have more than 1 patch.

  • up to a few centimetres across
  • itchy

The patch can appear anywhere on the skin, but is especially common on exposed areas;like the lower legs, neck and head.

Sometimes they can affect the groin area and, in men, the penis.

If the patch bleeds, starts to turn into an open sore or develops a lump, it could be a sign it’s turned into squamous cell skin cancer.

How Skin Conditions Can Affect Skin Cancer Detection And Treatment

Millions of Americans are affected by skin cancer, but millions more are battling skin conditions like rosacea, eczema, psoriasis and melasma. Although bothersome, these conditions are usually harmless and manageable through ongoing treatment.

In dealing with my own bout of melasma, I got to thinking can these skin problems make it harder to spot a potential skin cancer? Can a dermatologist treat a patients condition and skin cancer simultaneously? I asked James Sandwich, MD, MPH a board-certified dermatologist practicing in Fayetteville, Georgia, to break down these conditions for us and how they impact skin cancer diagnosis and treatment.

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Is Bowen’s Disease Serious

Bowen’s disease itself is not usually serious. It tends to grow very slowly over months or years, and there are several very effective treatments for it.

The concern is that Bowen’s disease can eventually develop into a different;type of skin cancer called;squamous cell skin cancer;if it’s left undiagnosed or neglected.

It’s estimated this happens in up to 1 in 20 to 1 in 30 people with untreated Bowen’s disease.

Squamous cell skin cancer is often treatable, but;it can;spread deeper into the body and is sometimes;very serious.

Actinic Keratosis On An Arm

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This photo contains content that some people may find graphic or disturbing.

Actinic keratosis, also called solar keratosis, is a precancerous skin lesion usually caused by too much sun exposure. It can also be caused by other factors such as radiation or arsenic exposure.

If left untreated, actinic keratoses can develop into a more invasive and potentially disfiguring skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma. They appear predominantly on sun-exposed;areas of the skin such as the face, neck, back of the hands and forearms, upper chest, and upper back. You can also develop keratoses along the rim of your ear.

Actinic keratosis;is caused by cumulative skin damage from repeated exposure to;ultraviolet light, including that found in sunshine. Over the years, the genetic material in your cells may become irreparably damaged and produce these pre-cancerous lesions. The lesions, like those seen here on the arm, can later become squamous cell carcinoma, a more invasive cancer.

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What Happens If Squamous Cell Carcinoma Is Left Untreated

Untreated squamous cell carcinoma of the skin can destroy nearby healthy tissue, spread to the lymph nodes or other organs, and may be fatal, although this is uncommon. The risk of aggressive squamous cell carcinoma of the skin may be increased in cases where the cancer: Is particularly large or deep.

Signs And Symptoms Of Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that develops as the result of an overactive immune system. Normally, T-cells in the immune system function by attacking bacteria and viruses that lead to infection and harm the body. If you have psoriasis, T-cells mistakenly begin attacking healthy skin cells. This causes the life cycle of skin cell production to speed up and generate a surplus of new skin cells in a matter of days. The new cells build up on the surface of skin and form thick patches and scales that can be itchy, painful, or burning.

The most common symptom is the appearance of well-defined, raised red patches of skin covered with silvery scales. These thick skin lesions typically appear on knees, elbows, scalp, trunk, buttocks, and nails. However, the disorder can affect any area of skin on the body, including the genital region.

Under the broad name psoriasis, there are many different types:

  • Plaque psoriasis is the most well-known form the skin condition takes. It is characterized by thick, raised red plaques that develop on the scalp, elbows, knees, and/or trunk. The plaques are often covered by dry, itchy silver-white scales.
  • Nail psoriasis causes changes to the nails. Both fingernails and toenails can develop pitting, discolorations, and crumbling. Due to the build-up of skin cells under the nail, one or more nails can lift and become detached.

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See A Suspicious Spot See A Dermatologist

If you find a spot on your skin that could be skin cancer, its time to see a dermatologist. Found early, skin cancer is highly treatable. Often a dermatologist can treat an early skin cancer by removing the cancer and a bit of normal-looking skin.

Given time to grow, treatment for skin cancer becomes more difficult.

Tips For Getting The Right Diagnosis

Psoriasis or skin cancer? How to tell the difference

For the best chance of getting the right diagnosis, a person should make sure they give an accurate history when a doctor or dermatologist asks. The more information a medical professional has to work with, the more likely they are to diagnose a persons illness correctly.

This is especially important with skin conditions such as psoriasis. A medical professional will typically rely on both a history and a visual assessment to work out what a persons skin condition is. A visual assessment alone may not be enough.

If a person is unsure about their diagnosis, they can request further diagnostic tests. This may involve speaking to a dermatologist, who might use dermoscopy or recommend a skin biopsy.

A skin biopsy involves taking a small sample of the skin and sending it to a lab for testing.

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Skin Cancer Rash: How To Assess Symptoms Similar To A Skin Rash Caused By Cancer

Whether caused by sunbathing or an allergic reaction, skin rashes may arise from a huge variety of conditions. However, certain rashes may indicate skin cancer, and being aware of potentially cancerous signs may help you get treatment quickly if needed.;

In this article, well describe a few rashes to look out for and recommend when to seek medical attention. Helpful insights about skin cancer rash symptoms and types are provided below.

Skin Conditions That Can Be Mistaken For Ringworm

Fungus is everywhere. If you come into contact with it, you can develop a fungal infection. Ringworm is a common type that mostly affects the skin, hair and nails. Its caused by the fungus dermatophytosis or tinea. Ringworm is described as a red, scaly and itchy patch that has a ring shape. Its not dangerous and can be treated with antifungal medication, like Fugacil. However, there is some confusion that can make it difficult to identify ringworm. Symptoms can be confused with those in many other skin conditions. So, to receive the effective treatment, its very important to make an accurate diagnosis. Here are 7 common skin conditions that can be mistaken for ringworm.

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Measles: A Facial Rash That Can Cover The Body

Like guttate psoriasis,;measles; also follow symptoms of an upper respiratory infection in children and cause a skin rash of small, red spots. However, the measles skin rash usually starts on the face and spreads down to cover the body and is accompanied by fever, cough, and a runny nose. Measles rash is also flat, while the rash of psoriasis is typically raised. Measles is caused by a virus and is contagious, though the measles vaccination has made this a rare disease in the United States.

How Is Psoriasis Treated

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Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease. That means it cant be cured. It can, however, be treated to reduce symptoms.

Psoriasis treatments fall into three basic categories. Your doctor may recommend only one of these types of treatments, or they may suggest a combination. The type of treatment you use largely depends on the severity of the psoriasis.

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What Does Recurrent Melanoma Look Like

What do I need to look for? When melanomas recur, they usually do so by appearing as lumps beneath the skin, often around where the melanoma was growing, or further up the limb, or as lumps in the lymph nodes. This means that they dont look like the original melanoma.

Who Diagnoses Skin Lymphoma

Diagnosing skin lymphoma is a bit like solving a jigsaw puzzle. A team of people from different hospital departments are involved in identifying the pieces and putting them together. This may include a dermatologist or haematologist and other healthcare professionals, who work as part of a multidisciplinary team . You might only meet a few of these people but they are all involved behind-the-scenes in diagnosing your condition and recommending the best treatment for you.

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When To See A Doctor

Check the skin regularly for any changes.

If a person suspects that they have symptoms of skin cancer or psoriasis, they should seek medical advice.

When a doctor diagnoses skin cancer early, treatment is often relatively easy. It can be simple to remove cancer that affects a small area of skin.

Overall, the outlook for skin cancer depends on the type and stage.

A person can reduce their risk of UV damage by:

  • using sunscreen
  • avoiding sun exposure during the hottest part of the day
  • wearing a hat and long sleeves when outdoors

Psoriasis is a long-term skin condition. With the right treatment, a person can manage symptoms and reduce the impact on daily life. Psoriasis usually does not affect life expectancy.

Recognizing Neoplastic Skin Lesions: A Photo Guide

Psoriasis and cancer: Is there a link?

LEWIS C. ROSE, M.B., B.S., University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio, Texas

Am Fam Physician.;1998;Sep;15;58:873-884.

;Patient information: See related handout on skin cancer, written by the author of this article.

Malignant lesions of the skin are common. Patients who develop squamous cell carcinoma and malignant melanoma often have recognizable precursor conditions. A few skin lesions resemble malignancies. Lesions that are growing, spreading or pigmented, or those that occur on exposed areas of skin are of particular concern. Knowing the similarities and differences between these lesions allows the primary physician to make a diagnosis in most cases by simple inspection and palpation. When in doubt, it is appropriate to perform an excisional biopsy of small lesions or punch biopsy of larger lesions. Removal of premalignant lesions will reduce the occurrence of malignant disease. Almost all skin cancers can be cured by early excision or destruction. For these reasons, physicians should be aware of the risk factors for skin cancer, educate patients about risk reduction and include skin inspection for premalignant and malignant lesions as a part of routine health maintenance examinations.

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Plaque Psoriasis: Red Bumps And Silvery Scales

Plaque psoriasis;is the most common form of the chronic;skin condition, affecting about 80 percent of people with psoriasis. Usually starting as small red bumps on the skin, plaque psoriasis develops into red patches with a silvery, scaly coating these raised patches are called plaques. Plaques usually show up on elbows, knees, and the lower back, and they can last for months or even years without treatment.

Can Squamous Cell Skin Cancer Go Away On Its Own

They may go away on their own and come back. You should call your doctor if you notice a change in the color, texture, or appearance of your skin or if you have a sore that does not heal or bleeds. Your doctor can diagnose squamous cell carcinoma by examining the growth and performing a biopsy of the suspected area.

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Treatments For Bowen’s Disease

There are a number of treatment options for Bowen’s disease.;Talk to your dermatologist about which treatment is most suitable for you.

The main treatments are:

  • cryotherapy liquid nitrogen is sprayed on to the affected skin to freeze it. The procedure may be painful and the skin may remain a bit uncomfortable for a few days. The affected skin;will scab over and;fall off within a few weeks.
  • imiquimod cream or chemotherapy cream this is applied to the affected skin;regularly;for a few weeks. It may cause your skin to become red and inflamed before it gets better.
  • curettage and cautery the affected area of skin is scraped away under;local anaesthetic, where the skin is;numbed, and heat or electricity is used to stop any bleeding, leaving the area to scab over and heal after a few weeks.
  • ;;a light-sensitive cream is applied to the affected skin and;a laser is directed on to the skin a few hours later to destroy the abnormal cells. The treatment session lasts about 20 to 45 minutes. You may need more than 1 session.
  • surgery the;abnormal skin is cut out under local anaesthetic and stitches may be needed afterwards.

In a few cases, your dermatologist may just advise monitoring your skin closely; for example, if it’s very slow growing and;they feel the side effects of treatment;will outweigh the benefits.

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Doru Paul, MD, is triple board-certified in medical oncology, hematology, and internal medicine. He is an associate professor of clinical medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College and attending physician in the Department of Hematology and Oncology at the New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center.

Not all skin blemishes are cancerous, nor will they all become cancerous in the future. If you are worried about a spot on your skin, this gallery of photographs can help you distinguish between cancerous, noncancerous, and precancerous lesions.

Of course, diagnosing;skin cancer;is far from straightforward, so if you have any doubts, contact your dermatologist or primary care physician as soon as possible.

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