What Do The Early Stages Of Skin Cancer Look Like
People can have stages of skin cancer and yet not feel ill, which makes early treatment and diagnosis a little challenging. But by being aware of the early stages of this disease, you can protect yourself and seek effective treatment right away. Do you have scaly patches, raised growths, or sores that do not heal? Dr. Jurzyk from Advanced Dermatology Center in Wolcott, CT can help you identify and treat all types of cancer of the skin, keeping you from fatal complications.
Symptoms If Cancer Has Spread To The Bone
You might have any of the following symptoms if your cancer has spread to the bones:
- pain from breakdown of the bone the pain is continuous and people often describe it as gnawing
- backache, which gets worse despite resting
- weaker bones they can break more easily
- raised blood calcium , which can cause dehydration, confusion, sickness, tummy pain and constipation
- low levels of blood cells blood cells are made in the bone marrow and can be crowded out by the cancer cells, causing anaemia, increased risk of infection, bruising and bleeding
Cancer in the spinal bones can cause pressure on the spinal cord. If it isn’t treated, it can lead to weakness in your legs, numbness, paralysis and loss of bladder and bowel control . This is called spinal cord compression. It is an emergency so if you have these symptoms, you need to contact your cancer specialist straight away or go to the accident and emergency department.
Signs And Symptoms Of Melanoma Skin Cancer
How melanoma skin cancer looks can vary. Melanoma skin cancer often starts as an abnormal mole anywhere on the skin. A mole is a common non-cancerous growth. It is normally a small, round or oval spot that is usually brown, tan or pink. It may be raised or flat. Most people have a few moles.
A change in the colour, size or shape of a mole is usually the first sign of melanoma skin cancer. These changes can happen in a mole or spot that is already on your skin, or changes can appear as a new mole. Other health conditions can also look like melanoma skin cancer.
The ABCDE rule below can help you look for the common signs and symptoms of melanoma skin cancer. See your doctor if you have any of these changes on your skin:
A is for asymmetry One-half of a mole does not have the same shape as the other half.
B is for border The edge of a mole is uneven . It can look jagged, notched or blurry. The colour may spread into the area around the mole.
C is for colour The colour of a mole is not the same throughout. It could have shades of tan, brown and black. Sometimes areas of blue, grey, red, pink or white are also seen.
D is for diameter The size of a mole is larger than 6 mm across, which is about the size of a pencil eraser.
E is for evolving There is a change in the colour, size, shape or feel of the mole. The mole may become itchy or you may have a burning or tingling feeling.
Other signs and symptoms of melanoma skin cancer include:
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If Youre Getting Radiation Therapy To The Head Or Neck
People who get radiation to the head and neck might have side effects such as:
- Soreness in the mouth or throat
- Dry mouth
- Jaw stiffness
How to care for your mouth during treatment
If you get radiation therapy to the head or neck, you need to take good care of your teeth, gums, mouth, and throat. Here are some tips that may help you manage mouth problems:
- Avoid spicy and rough foods, such as raw vegetables, dry crackers, and nuts.
- Dont eat or drink very hot or very cold foods or beverages.
- Dont smoke, chew tobacco, or drink alcohol these can make mouth sores worse.
- Stay away from sugary snacks.
- Ask your cancer care team to recommend a good mouthwash. The alcohol in some mouthwashes can dry and irritate mouth tissues.
- Rinse your mouth with warm salt and soda water every 1 to 2 hours as needed.
- Sip cool drinks often throughout the day.
- Eat sugar-free candy or chew gum to help keep your mouth moist.
- Moisten food with gravies and sauces to make it easier to eat.
- Ask your cancer care team about medicines to help treat mouth sores and control pain while eating.
If these measures are not enough, ask your cancer care team for advice. Mouth dryness may be a problem even after treatment is over. If so, talk to your team about what you can do.
How to care for your teeth during treatment
Radiation treatment to your head and neck can increase your chances of getting cavities. This is especially true if you have dry mouth as a result of treatment.
Why Does It Happen
Non-melanoma skin cancer is mainly caused by overexposure to ultraviolet light. UV light comes from the sun, as well as artificial sunbeds and sunlamps.
In addition to UV light overexposure, there are certain things that can increase your chances of developing non-melanoma skin cancer, such as:
- a family history of the condition
- pale skin that burns easily
- a large number of moles or freckles
Read more about the causes of non-melanoma skin cancer
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Cancer Symptoms In Women
Breast lump or change. Although it’s a hallmark symptom of breast cancer, most lumps aren’t cancer. They’re often fluid-filled cysts or noncancerous tumors.
Still, see your doctor right away if you find any new or changing growths in your breasts, just to make sure.
Also get these changes checked out:
- Redness or scaling of the skin over the breast
- Breast pain
- Lump under your arm
- Fluid that isn’t breast milk leaking from the nipple
Bleeding between periods or after menopause. Bleeding from the vagina during women’s reproductive years is usually theirÃ monthly period. When it happens after menopause or outside of normal periods, cervical or endometrial cancer is a possibility. Call your doctor if you have any bleeding that’s unusual for you.
Red Flag #: Chest Pain And Trouble Breathing
Melanoma is also known to spread to the lungs, though Dr. Zaba notes that most people dont experience noticeable symptoms in the lungs until a tumor has gotten pretty large. A cough that just wont quit or recurring chest infections can signal that the cancer has traveled to the lungs, Dr. Polsky says. Shortness of breath or trouble breathing can also be a red flag.
Seeing A Healthcare Provider For Fatigue
When your chief complaint is fatigue, cancer isn’t likely to be the first thing on your healthcare provider’s mind. Fatigue is related to many other conditions, and your healthcare provider will want to rule out the most common causes first.
This will be accomplished through a physical and routine blood work. Your healthcare provider will likely order a few different blood tests, especially tests to check on your thyroid function.
During your visit, your healthcare provider may ask several questions relating to your quality of life and what factors may contribute to your fatigue. Possible questions include:
- How many hours do you work? Are you stressed at work?
- Have you had any major life changes, such as marriage, birth, or death?
- How often do you exercise?
- Do you sleep well? How much sleep do you get?
- How is your diet?
- Do you have a family history of thyroid disease?
It is important to remember that fatigue is not exclusive to cancer. If you are experiencing fatigue, it may be related to a less serious condition or have a lifestyle cause.
Can You Have Melanoma And Not Know It
How long can you have melanoma and not know it? It depends on the type of melanoma. For example, nodular melanoma grows rapidly over a matter of weeks, while a radial melanoma can slowly spread over the span of a decade. Like a cavity, a melanoma may grow for years before producing any significant symptoms.
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The 4 Stages Of Melanoma
Two main things determine the stage of melanoma: The thickness or depth of the tumor and how far it has spread when its diagnosed, explains David Polsky, M.D., dermatologist at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City. In stages 0, 1, and 2, the melanoma is limited to the skin. In stage 3, its spread to the lymph nodes, small structures throughout your body that help filter fluids and fight infection. In the most advanced stage, stage 4, melanoma cells have broken away from the original tumor, traveled through the body and formed a new tumor somewhere else.
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Top 5 Conditions Often Mistaken For Skin Cancer
Finding a new bump or growth on your skin can be worrisome, particularly if you are a person that is concerned about the health of their skin. Melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer and in Australia alone we have more than 13,000 cases diagnosed every year. Therefore, there are many reasons to be cautious and check your skin regularly.
You might also want to check what is skin cancer before you proceed.
The good news however is that there are many skin conditions that are often mistaken for skin cancer, that are in fact just benign growths. Telling the difference however often takes years of training, so it is always a good idea to check with your dermatologist to properly diagnose the growth.
To help put things into perspective here are 5 skin conditions that are often mistaken for skin cancer:
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Red Flag #: Swollen Lymph Nodes
If melanoma spreads, it often goes to the lymph nodes first, says Melinda L. Yushak, M.D., assistant professor of hematology and medical oncology at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta. The cancer cells will first travel to the nodes closest to the original tumor, she says. Lymph nodes are located throughout your entire body, but large clusters are found in the neck, underarms, chest, abdomen, and groin. If the cancer has made its way to the lymph nodes, it usually wont be painful, but theyll feel swollen or even hard to the touch, Dr. Zaba says.
How Can I Tell If I Have Skin Cancer
Skin cancer is actually one of the easiest cancers to find. Thats because skin cancer usually begins where you can see it.
You can get skin cancer anywhere on your skin from your scalp to the bottoms of your feet. Even if the area gets little sun, its possible for skin cancer to develop there.
You can also get skin cancer in places that may surprise you. Skin cancer can begin under a toenail or fingernail, on your genitals, inside your mouth, or on a lip.
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What Does Cancer Feel Like
Cancer remains a difficult disease to diagnose because it is capable of causing so many symptoms. The signs depend on the size and position of the cancer and the extent that it is affecting the tissues or organs. If the cancer metastasizes , its symptoms change and can appear in every region where it has spread. Therefore, knowing the answer to “What does cancer feel like” is better, as the moment you start to have such feelings, you can contact your doctor for early check and diagnosis.
Taking Care Of Yourself
After youve been treated for basal cell carcinoma, youll need to take some steps to lower your chance of getting cancer again.
Check your skin. Keep an eye out for new growths. Some signs of cancer include areas of skin that are growing, changing, or bleeding. Check your skin regularly with a hand-held mirror and a full-length mirror so that you can get a good view of all parts of your body.
Avoid too much sun. Stay out of sunlight between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the suns UVB burning rays are strongest.
Use sunscreen. The suns UVA rays are present all day long thats why you need daily sunscreen. Make sure you apply sunscreen with at least a 6% zinc oxide and a sun protection factor of 30 to all parts of the skin that arent covered up with clothes every day. You also need to reapply it every 60 to 80 minutes when outside.
Dress right. Wear a broad-brimmed hat and cover up as much as possible, such as long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
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About The Suspected Cancer Pathway
National guidelines say that anyone with suspected cancer should be referred to a specialist and seen within two weeks.
This may sound alarming, but keep in mind that most people referred on the suspected cancer pathway don’t have cancer. The maximum two-week wait is recommended to help people get checked out quickly. For the few people who do have cancer, getting diagnosed earlier can mean treatment is easier and more successful.
Blood cancer: common symptoms
Unexplained Rash Bruising Or Bleeding
Caused by a low level of platelets, which help the blood to clot
Bruises are a sign of bleeding under the skin and often happen after an injury, but if they appear for no reason, they can be a sign of low platelets. They show as darker or a different colour to the skin around them and may feel tender when you touch them.
You may see small spots in the skin or larger discoloured patches . These look like a rash but are actually clusters of small bruises. On black and brown skin petechiae and purpura typically look purple or darker than the surrounding skin and on lighter skin they tend to show as red or purple.
You may have bleeding from your nose or gums, prolonged bleeding from a cut, heavy periods, or blood in your urine or poo. In very rare cases, there may be a bleed into the brain, which can cause neurological symptoms.
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How Serious Is A Squamous Cell Carcinoma Topic Guide
- The stresses and physiological changes caused by cancer and its treatments are almost a perfect recipe for insomnia. Drug side effects, stress and anxiety, physical pain and discomfort, oddly timed hospital routines and other factors may all contribute to insomnia in cancer patients.
What Are Some General Signs And Symptoms Of Cancer
Most signs and symptoms are not caused by cancer but can be caused by other things. If you have any signs and symptoms that don’t go away or get worse, you should see a doctor to find out whats causing them. If cancer is not the cause, a doctor can help figure out what the cause is and treat it, if needed.
For instance, lymph nodes are part of the bodys immune system and help capture harmful substances in the body. Normal lymph nodes are tiny and can be hard to find. But when theres infection, inflammation, or cancer, the nodes can get larger. Those near the bodys surface can get big enough to feel with your fingers, and some can even be seen as swelling or a lump under the skin. One reason lymph nodes may swell is if cancer gets trapped there. So, if you have unusual swelling or a lump, you should see your doctor to figure out whats going on.
Here are some of the more common signs and symptoms that may be caused by cancer. However, any of these can be caused by other problems as well.
Sometimes, its possible to find cancer before you have symptoms. The American Cancer Society and other health groups recommend cancer-related check-ups and certain tests for people even though they have no symptoms. This helps find certain cancers early. You can find more information on early detection at the American Cancer Society Guidelines for the Early Detection of Cancer.
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Symptoms If Cancer Has Spread To The Lymph Nodes
Lymph nodes are part of a system of tubes and glands in the body that filters body fluids and fights infection.
The most common symptom if cancer has spread to the lymph nodes is that they feel hard or swollen. Swollen lymph nodes in the neck area can make it hard to swallow.
Cancer cells can also stop lymph fluid from draining away. This might lead to swelling in the neck or face due to fluid buildup in that area. The swelling is called lymphoedema.
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 .
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Questions To Ask Your Doctor
If you go to get checked out, here are some questions you might want to ask your doctor:
- Im worried about blood cancer is that something you can rule out?
- Do I need a blood test?
- Do I need a lymph node biopsy?
- Do I need any scans?
- Do you need to take a urine sample?
- As my symptoms might be blood cancer, can I be referred for tests on the two-week suspected cancer pathway?