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How Can I Know If I Have Skin Cancer

Abcde Melanoma Detection Guide

How to Recognize Skin Cancer | Skin Cancer

A is for Asymmetry

Look for spots that lack symmetry. That is, if a line was drawn through the middle, the two sides would not match up.

B is for Border

A spot with a spreading or irregular edge .

C is for Colour

Blotchy spots with a number of colours such as black, blue, red, white and/or grey.

D is for Diameter

Look for spots that are getting bigger.

E is for Evolving

Spots that are changing and growing.

These are some changes to look out for when checking your skin for signs of any cancer:

  • New moles.
  • Moles that increases in size.
  • An outline of a mole that becomes notched.
  • A spot that changes colour from brown to black or is varied.
  • A spot that becomes raised or develops a lump within it.
  • The surface of a mole becoming rough, scaly or ulcerated.
  • Moles that itch or tingle.
  • Moles that bleed or weep.
  • Spots that look different from the others.

What To Do If You Notice Skin Changes

If you notice anything unusual on your skin, make an appointment to show it to your GP. It might help to take a photograph of anything unusual, so you can check for any changes. Remember there are many other skin conditions that are not cancer, especially in older people.

It can be more difficult to notice changes if you have darker skin. This is because symptoms of skin cancer may be less obvious than in people with paler skin. If you notice any changes, such as a sore that does not heal, always see your GP.

Macmillan is here to support you. If you would like to talk, you can:

What Causes Skin Cancer

The main cause of skin cancer is overexposure to sunlight, especially when it results in sunburn and blistering. Ultraviolet rays from the sun damage DNA in your skin, causing abnormal cells to form. These abnormal cells rapidly divide in a disorganized manner, forming a mass of cancer cells.

Another cause of skin cancer is frequent skin contact with certain chemicals, such as tar and coal.

Many other factors can increase your risk of developing skin cancer. See question, Who is most at risk for skin cancer?

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How To Spot Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is by far the most common type of cancer. If you know what to look for, you can spot warning signs of skin cancer early. Finding it early, when its small and has not spread, makes skin cancer much easier to treat.

Some doctors and other health care professionals include skin exams as part of routine health check-ups. Many doctors also recommend that you check your own skin about once a month. Look at your skin in a well-lit room in front of a full-length mirror. Use a hand-held mirror to look at areas that are hard to see.

Use the ABCDE rule to look for some of the common signs of melanoma, one of the deadliest forms of skin cancer:

AsymmetryOne part of a mole or birthmark doesnt match the other.

BorderThe edges are irregular, ragged, notched, or blurred.

ColorThe color is not the same all over and may include shades of brown or black, sometimes with patches of pink, red, white, or blue.

DiameterThe spot is larger than ΒΌ inch across about the size of a pencil eraser although melanomas can sometimes be smaller than this.

EvolvingThe mole is changing in size, shape, or color.

Basal and squamous cell skin cancers are more common than melanomas, but they are usually very treatable.

Both basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas, or cancers, usually grow on parts of the body that get the most sun, such as the face, head, and neck. But they can show up anywhere.

Basal cell carcinomas: what to look for:

Squamous cell carcinomas: what to look for:

How Does Cancer Cause Signs And Symptoms

Do i have skin cancer?

A cancer can grow into,or begin to push on nearby organs, blood vessels, and nerves. This pressure causes some of the signs and symptoms of cancer.

A cancer may also cause symptoms like fever, extreme tiredness , or weight loss. This may be because cancer cells use up much of the bodys energy supply. Or the cancer could release substances that change the way the body makes energy. Cancer can also cause the immune system to react in ways that produce these signs and symptoms.

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You Can Find Skin Cancer On Your Body

The best way to find skin cancer is to examine yourself. When checking, you want to look at the spots on your skin. And you want to check everywhere from your scalp to the spaces between your toes and the bottoms of your feet.

If possible, having a partner can be helpful. Your partner can examine hard-to-see areas like your scalp and back.

Getting in the habit of checking your skin will help you notice changes. Checking monthly can be beneficial. If you have had skin cancer, your dermatologist can tell you how often you should check your skin.

People of all ages get skin cancer

Checking your skin can help you find skin cancer early when its highly treatable.

Is There Anything Else I Need To Know About A Skin Cancer Screening

Exposure to the ultraviolet rays that come from the sun plays a major role in causing skin cancer. You are exposed to these rays anytime you are out in the sun, not just when you are at the beach or pool. But you can limit your sun exposure and help reduce your risk of skin cancer if you take a few simple precautions when out in the sun. These include:

  • Using a sunscreen with a sun protection factor of at least 30
  • Seeking shade when possible
  • Wearing a hat and sunglasses

Sunbathing also increases your risk of skin cancer. You should avoid outdoor sunbathing and never use an indoor tanning salon. There is no safe amount of exposure to artificial tanning beds, sunlamps, or other artificial tanning devices.

If you have questions about reducing your risk of skin cancer, talk to your health care provider.

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Does Skin Cancer Hurt To The Touch

In the case of melanoma, a painless mole may start getting tender, itchy, or painful.

Other skin cancers generally do not hurt to touch until they have advanced to become large. The peculiar absence of pain in a skin sore or a rash often directs the diagnosis toward skin cancer.

When skin cancer has grown considerably, it may ulcerate and cause symptoms, such as pain and discomfort. Skin cancer generally presents as:

  • New growth on the skin
  • A changing mole or a mole that looks different from others
  • A rough or scaly patch on the skin
  • A non-healing ulcer or sore or one that keeps coming back
  • A mole or spot that has an irregular shape or appearance
  • A skin patch or mole with an uneven color
  • A brown or black streak under a nail
  • A skin patch that itches or bleeds
  • A skin patch or growth that is increasing in size

Skin cancer can be detected quite easily since you can see the changes occurring on your skin. Sometimes skin cancer may arise at relatively concealed places, such as inside your mouth, around your genitals, or under a nail. Thus, you must examine yourself thoroughly, preferably in front of a mirror or with the help of your partner, friend, or family member, to look for any signs that may indicate skin cancer.

What Is My Skin Type

Finding out if THIS is (skin) CANCER

Skin types that are more sensitive to ultraviolet radiation burn more quickly and are at a greater risk of skin cancer.

All skin types can be damaged by too much UV radiation. Skin types that are more sensitive to UV radiation burn more quickly and are at a greater risk of skin cancer.

People with naturally very dark skin still need to take care in the sun even though they may rarely, if ever, get sunburnt. The larger amount of melanin in very dark skin provides natural protection from UV radiation. This means the risk of skin cancer is lower.

Eye damage can occur regardless of skin type. High levels of UV radiation have also been linked to harmful effects on the immune system.

Vitamin D deficiency may be a greater health concern for people with naturally very dark skin, as it is more difficult for people with this skin type to make vitamin D.

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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Melanoma

Melanoma is a skin cancer that can show up on the skin in many ways. It can look like a:

  • Changing mole

  • Spot that looks like a new mole, freckle, or age spot, but it looks different from the others on your skin

  • Spot that has a jagged border, more than one color, and is growing

  • Dome-shaped growth that feels firm and may look like a sore, which may bleed

  • Dark-brown or black vertical line beneath a fingernail or toenail

  • Band of darker skin around a fingernail or toenail

  • Slowly growing patch of thick skin that looks like a scar

Early melanoma

This early melanoma could be mistaken for a mole, so its important to look carefully at the spots on your skin.

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You Have A Red Scaly Patch That Wont Go Away

Arthur said both basal and squamous cell carcinoma can show up as scaly red patches. She noted that squamous cell carcinomas can also be a little tender to touch.

Garner added that they can can feel like irregular sandpaper when you touch them.

Squamous cell carcinomas could also manifest as sores that wont heal wart-like growths or elevated growths with indented centers that bleed, according to SCF.

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Read Also: What Does Stage 3 Melanoma Look Like

When Should I See My Healthcare Provider

Make an appointment to see your healthcare provider or dermatologist as soon as you notice:

  • Any changes to your skin or changes in the size, shape or color of existing moles or other skin lesions.
  • The appearance of a new growth on your skin.
  • A sore that doesnt heal.
  • Spots on your skin that are different from others.
  • Any spots that change, itch or bleed.

Your provider will check your skin, take a biopsy , make a diagnosis and discuss treatment. Also, see your dermatologist annually for a full skin review.

Look Out For An Ugly Duckling

Would You Know Skin Cancer If You Saw It

The Ugly Duckling is another warning sign of melanoma. This recognition strategy is based on the concept that most normal moles on your body resemble one another, while melanomas stand out like ugly ducklings in comparison. This highlights the importance of not just checking for irregularities, but also comparing any suspicious spot to surrounding moles to determine whether it looks different from its neighbors. These ugly duckling lesions or outlier lesions can be larger, smaller, lighter or darker, compared to surrounding moles. Also, isolated lesions without any surrounding moles for comparison are considered ugly ducklings.

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Basal Cell Carcinoma Warning Signs

Basal cell carcinoma typically develops on parts of your body exposed to sunlight, but it does occasionally occur in other places. often include:

  • an open sore that doesnt heal or heals and returns it may ooze or crust over
  • a pink growth with raised edges and a depressed center, sometimes with abnormal blood vessels that resemble the spokes of a wheel
  • a small pink or red bump thats shiny, pearly, or translucent it may have areas that are black, blue, or brown
  • a raised red patch that itches
  • a flat and firm area that resemble a pale or yellow scar

What Is A Biopsy

A proper diagnosis of cancer in the skin is made possible through biopsy. We will remove a skin tissue sample and send it to a laboratory. A pathologist will then examine your samples and look for abnormal cells that could be cancerous. Through a biopsy, you can also get accurate information about the stage of skin cancer you might have.

For advanced melanoma, we request imaging tests and lymph node biopsy to see whether cancer has affected other parts of the body. Additional evaluation is made possible using any or a combination of the following methods:

  • Computed tomography
  • Measurement of lactate dehydrogenase levels

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What Skin Cancer Looks Like

Skin cancer appears on the body in many different ways. It can look like a:

  • Changing mole or mole that looks different from your others

  • Dome-shaped growth

  • Non-healing sore or sore that heals and returns

  • Brown or black streak under a nail

It can also show up in other ways.

To find skin cancer on your body, you dont have to remember a long list. Dermatologists sum it up this way. Its time to see a dermatologist if you notice a spot on your skin that:

  • Differs from the others

  • Itches

  • Bleeds

To make it easy for you to check your skin, the AAD created the Body Mole Map. Youll find everything you need to know on a single page. Illustrations show you how to examine your skin and what to look for. Theres even place to record what your spots look like. Youll find this page, which you can print, at Body Mole Map.

What You Need To Know About Early Detection

8 Signs that You have Cancer

Finding melanoma at an early stage is crucial early detection can vastly increase your chances for cure.

Look for anything new,changing or unusual on both sun-exposed and sun-protected areas of the body. Melanomas commonly appear on the legs of women, and the number one place they develop on men is the trunk. Keep in mind, though, that melanomas can arise anywhere on the skin, even in areas where the sun doesnt shine.

Most moles, brown spots and growths on the skin are harmless but not always. The ABCDEs and the Ugly Duckling sign can help you detect melanoma.

Early detection makes a difference

99%5-year survival rate for patients in the U.S. whose melanoma is detected early. The survival rate drops to 66% if the disease reaches the lymph nodes and27% if it spreads to distant organs.

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Basal Cell And Squamous Cell Carcinomasigns And Symptoms

The most common warning sign of skin cancer is a change on the skin, especially a new growth or a sore that doesn’t heal. The cancer may start as a small, smooth, shiny, pale or waxy lump. It also may appear as a firm red lump. Sometimes, the lump bleeds or develops a crust.

Both basal and squamous cell cancers are found mainly on areas of the skin that are exposed to the sun the head, face, neck, hands and arms. But skin cancer can occur anywhere.

An early warning sign of skin cancer is the development of an actinic keratosis, a precancerous skin lesion caused by chronic sun exposure. These lesions are typically pink or red in color and rough or scaly to the touch. They occur on sun-exposed areas of the skin such as the face, scalp, ears, backs of hands or forearms.

Actinic keratoses may start as small, red, flat spots but grow larger and become scaly or thick, if untreated. Sometimes they’re easier to feel than to see. There may be multiple lesions next to each other.

Early treatment of actinic keratoses may prevent them from developing into cancer. These precancerous lesions affect more than 10 million Americans. People with one actinic keratosis usually develop more. Up to 1 percent of these lesions can develop into a squamous cell cancer.

Basal cell carcinoma is the most commonly diagnosed skin cancer. In recent years, there has been an upturn in the diagnoses among young women and the rise is blamed on sunbathing and tanning salons.

  • Raised, dull-red skin lesion

Where Does Skin Cancer Develop

Skin cancer is most commonly seen in sun-exposed areas of your skin your face , ears, neck, arms, chest, upper back, hands and legs. However, it can also develop in less sun-exposed and more hidden areas of skin, including between your toes, under your fingernails, on the palms of your hands, soles of your feet and in your genital area.

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Skin Cancer And 5 Signs To Watch For

You might not feel like you need sun protection in these cold, dark days of winter. But those rays are still damaging, and sunscreen should continue to be used as part of your daily routine. This is especially true for your face and hands, as those tend to still get sun even when it is cold.

Your daily routine should also include checking for any signs of cancer. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States and one in five Americans will develop a skin cancer in their lifetime.

That is why looking at your own skin is so critical. It sounds easy to do, but many people do not or cannot do a thorough skin check especially on our backs, scalp, and between the toes.

Remember, suspicious moles are not the only signs of skin cancer. What else should you look for?

Get To Know Your Skin

Would You Know Skin Cancer If You Saw It

The sooner a skin cancer is identified and treated, the better your chance of avoiding surgery or, in the case of a serious melanoma or other skin cancer, potential disfigurement or even death.

It is also a good idea to talk to your doctor about your level of risk and for advice on early detection.

It’s important to get to know your skin and what is normal for you, so that you notice any changes. Skin cancers rarely hurt and are much more frequently seen than felt.

Develop a regular habit of checking your skin for new spots and changes to existing freckles or moles.

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