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How Can You Tell Skin Cancer

Signs Of Skin Cancer: The Importance Of Screening

How to Know if it is Skin Cancer?

Age spot or liver spot.

If youre at risk of skin cancer, its wise to have a full-body exam by a dermatologist every one to two years. A melanoma may not look very threatening, but the longer it goes undetected and untreated, the more likely the cancer will spread to other areas of your body.

A board-certified dermatologist is best equipped to diagnose skin cancers. In addition to rigorous training, we also have special lighting and devices called dermatoscopes that help differentiate between lentigines, moles, and skin cancers, says Dr. Lipner.

Between visits to your dermatologist, do a monthly self-check of your skin to monitor your moles, brown spots, and freckles, as well as any new spots or growths that appear. Perform your self-exam under a bright light, using a full-length mirror as well as a hand mirror. And, make sure to check your lips, mouth, ears, scalp, under your breasts, fingernails, and toenails, between your fingers and toes, the soles of your feet, and your genitals.

What Is The Outlook For People With Skin Cancer

Nearly all skin cancers can be cured if they are treated before they have a chance to spread. The earlier skin cancer is found and removed, the better your chance for a full recovery. Ninety percent of those with basal cell skin cancer are cured. It is important to continue following up with a dermatologist to make sure cancer does not return. If something seems wrong, call your doctor right away.

Most skin cancer deaths are from melanoma. If you are diagnosed with melanoma:

  • The five-year survival rate if its detected before it spreads to the lymph nodes is 99%.
  • The five-year survival rate if it has spread to nearby lymph nodes is 66%.
  • The five-year survival rate if it has spread to distant lymph nodes and other organs is 27%.

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.

Read Also: Invasive Ductal Carcinoma Stage 3 Survival Rate

Finding Skin Cancer Early

When skin cancer is found and treated early, the chances of successful treatment are better. Get regular health checkups and see your doctor if you have any symptoms or are worried about your health.

If you have a higher than average risk, you may need to visit your doctor more often to check for skin cancer. Talk to your doctor about what can help find skin cancer early including checking your skin and having skin exams by a trained health professional.

Basal Cell Carcinoma Stages

How Do You Know If You Have A Cancerous Mole

There are certain features that are considered to make the cancer at higher risk for spreading or recurrence, and these may also be used to stage basal cell carcinomas. These include:

  • Greater than 2 mm in thickness
  • Invasion into the lower dermis or subcutis layers of the skin
  • Invasion into the tiny nerves in the skin
  • Location on the ear or on a hair-bearing lip

After the TNM components and risk factors have been established, the cancer is given a stage. For basal cell carcinoma staging, the factors are grouped and labeled 0 to 4. The characteristics and stages of basal cell carcinoma are:

Stage 0: Also called carcinoma in situ, cancer discovered in this stage is only present in the epidermis and has not spread deeper to the dermis.

Stage 1 basal cell carcinoma: The cancer is less than 2 centimeters, about 4/5 of an inch across, has not spread to nearby lymph nodes or organs, and has one or fewer high-risk features.

Stage 2 basal cell carcinoma: The cancer is larger than 2 centimeters across, and has not spread to nearby organs or lymph nodes, or a tumor of any size with 2 or more high-risk features.

Stage 3 basal cell carcinoma: The cancer has spread into facial bones or 1 nearby lymph node, but not to other organs.

Stage 4 basal cell carcinoma: The cancer can be any size and has spread to 1 or more lymph nodes which are larger than 3 cm and may have spread to bones or other organs in the body.

Read Also: Stage Iii Melanoma

The Most Common Skin Cancers

As you stay aware of changes to your skin, it’s helpful to know some of the typical signs of the common skin cancers. The most common skin cancer is basal cell carcinoma , which is most likely to be found in areas that are routinely exposed to the sun. BCCs tend to be fragile, bleeding easily if the skin is broken. If you have a spot you nicked while shaving that doesnt heal in a week, make an appointment with your dermatologist — it could be a BCC. The American Cancer Society identifies the signs of BCCs as: areas that are like a scar with a firm and and flat feel and a whitish or yellow color raised red or pink areas that could be itchy open, crusty, and/or oozing sores that either dont heal or keep returning small, pink or red, shiny, waxy, or pearly bumps, which could also have blue, brown, or black areas raised pink growths with a lower area in their center, which might have blood vessels spreading out like the spokes of a wheel. Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common skin cancer. Like BCCs, SCCs typically develop in sun-exposed areas. The most common warning signs of SCCs are a firm, red nodule that might have a lower center wart-like growths patches of skin that are rough or scaly and might ooze, crust or bleed.

Risk Of Further Melanomas

Most people treated for early melanoma do not have further trouble with the disease. However, when there is a chance that the melanoma may have spread to other parts of your body, you will need regular check-ups. Your doctor will decide how often you will need check-ups everyone is different. They will become less frequent if you have no further problems. After treatment for melanoma it is important to limit exposure to the suns UV radiation. As biological family members usually share similar traits, your family members may also have an increased risk of developing melanoma and other skin cancers. They can reduce their risk by spending less time in the sun and using a combination of sun protection measures during sun protection times. It is important to monitor your skin regularly and if you notice any changes in your skin, or enlarged lymph glands near to where you had the cancer, see your specialist as soon as possible.

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Also Check: Stage 5 Cancer Symptoms

What Are The Worst Cancers To Get

Top 5 Deadliest Cancers

  • Prostate Cancer. U.S. deaths in 2014: 29,480. How common is it?
  • Pancreatic Cancer. U.S. deaths in 2014: 39,590. How common is it?
  • Breast Cancer. U.S. deaths in 2014: 40,430. How common is it?
  • Colorectal Cancer. U.S. deaths in 2014: 50,310. How common is it?
  • Lung Cancer. U.S. deaths in 2014: 159,260.

2.03.2015

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

How to Recognize Skin Cancer | Skin Cancer

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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When Should I See My Doctor

Its important to check your own skin regularly to find any new or changing spots.

See your doctor or dermatologist straight away if you notice any changes to your skin, such as:

  • an ‘ugly duckling’ a spot that looks or feels different to any others
  • a spot that changes size, shape, colour or texture over time
  • a sore that doesnt go away after a few weeks
  • a sore that itches or bleeds

See the ‘ABCDE’ of skin cancer, above.

Warning Signs Of Basal Cell Carcinoma That You Could Mistake As Harmless

  • Warning sign: A pink or reddish growth that dips in the centerCan be mistaken for: A skin injury or acne scar

    A pink or reddish growth that dips in the center

    The BCC on this patients cheek could be mistaken for a minor skin injury.

  • Warning sign: A growth or scaly patch of skin on or near the earCan be mistaken for: Scaly, dry skin, minor injury, or scar

    A growth or scaly patch of skin on or near the ear

    BCC often develops on or near an ear, and this one could be mistaken for a minor skin injury.

  • Warning sign: A sore that doesnt heal and may bleed, ooze, or crust overCan be mistaken for: Sore or pimple

    A sore that doesnt heal, or heals and returns

    This patient mistook the BCC on his nose for a non-healing pimple.

  • Warning sign: A scaly, slightly raised patch of irritated skin, which could be red, pink, or another colorCan be mistaken for: Dry, irritated skin, especially if its red or pink

    A scaly, slightly raised patch of irritated skin

    This BCC could be mistaken for a patch of dry, irritated skin.

  • Warning sign: A round growth that may be pink, red, brown, black, tan, or the same color as your skinCan be mistaken for: A mole, wart, or other harmless growth.

    A round growth that may be same color as your skin

    Would you recognize this as a skin cancer, or would you dismiss it as a harmless growth on your face?

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    How To Identify Skin Cancer Vs Age Spots

    Finding a strange spot on your body can be pretty scary. You dont know how long it will be there, if its dangerous, or what it even is. The best thing you can do when you find weird-looking spot on your body is to visit your dermatologist.

    While youre waiting to see a doctor, you may want to better understand two common types of skin spots: skin cancer and age spots, also known as liver spots. Its easy to get the two confused, so lets take a closer look at them.

    Early Detection Can Save Lives

    Melanoma: How do you know if a mole is dangerous?

    An article published in Seminars in Oncology Nursing states the following:

    Cancer screening has contributed to decreasing the morbidity and mortality of cancer. Efforts to improve the selection of candidates for cancer screening, to understand the biological basis of carcinogenesis, and the development of new technologies for cancer screening will allow for improvements in cancer screening over time.

    While new technologies and research emerges each year, we still have a long fight. But the rate of survival continues to rise as we learn how to identify cancer in its earliest stages. The earlier you and your doctor identify cancer cells, the greater your odds of beating the disease.

    It will feel awkward, or even scary, to admit that you found something that might be cancerous growing inside you. But facing your fears sooner than later means a faster path to treatmentor receiving a non-cancer diagnosis of a less threatening disease.

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    Can Skin Cancer Spread To Other Parts Of The Body

    Yes, it can. However, it depends on the type of skin cancer and its stage.

    Non-melanoma skin cancers are less likely to spread. Basal cell carcinoma usually does not migrate to other parts of the body, but there is a small chance that squamous cell cancer will do so.

    Melanoma skin cancer spreads more readily than non-melanoma, making it more dangerous. It can spread to the lymph nodes and, from there, to other organs in the body.

    Can Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer Go Away On Its Own

    Nonmelanoma cancer is a slow-growing cancer that develops in the outer layers of the skin. It is the most prevalent form of skin cancer that does not exhibit serious consequences. It tends to appear more in males than in females. Older adults develop them more commonly.

    Persistent exposure to ultraviolet rays is the most common cause of nonmelanoma cancer. It involves artificial tanning sunbeds and sunlamps along with UV rays perceived from the sun. Other reasons include past history, family history of skin cancer, presence of moles or freckles, immunosuppressive medicines, easy burns of pale skin, presence of freckles or moles, and co-existing immunosuppressive immune system.

    Skin cancer develops due to the malignant growth of cells in the upper layers of the skin. It is a lesson that keeps on changing its appearance. It may go on its own but, it may metastasize to other cells and organs too. It tends to spread fast, which may increase the risk of deterioration and decrease the chances of survival.

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    Recommended Reading: Skin Cancer Metastasis To Lymph Nodes

    Most Melanoma Does Not Start In A Preexisting Mole

    Melanoma can develop in a preexisting mole, says Dr. Marghoob, but nearly 70% of skin melanomas do not. Rather, they occur in normal skin. Moles themselves are not cancerous, and it is extremely rare for a mole to transform into a melanoma, says Dr. Marghoob. That said, he adds, having many moles helps identify people who are at an increased risk for developing melanoma somewhere on their skin.

    Since most melanoma develops on normal skin, Dr. Marghoob stresses the importance of protecting the entire surface of the body, including areas with many moles and areas without any moles. Some people use sunblock only where they have moles because they think the moles themselves are dangerous, adds Dr. Marghoob. Stay safe by applying broad-spectrum sunblock with an SPF of at least 30, wearing sun-protective clothing, or using a combination of the two approaches.

    Squamous Cell Carcinoma Stages

    VIDEO: How to identify skin cancer

    There are certain features that are considered to make the cancer at higher risk for spreading or recurrence, and these may also be used to stage squamous cell carcinomas. These include:

    • Greater than 2 mm in thickness
    • Invasion into the lower dermis or subcutis layers of the skin
    • Invasion into the tiny nerves in the skin
    • Location on the ear or on a hair-bearing lip

    After the TNM components and risk factors have been established, the cancer is assigned to one of the five squamous cell carcinoma stages, which are labeled 0 to 4. The characteristics and stages of squamous cell cancer are:

    Stage 0: Also called carcinoma in situ, cancer discovered in this stage is only present in the epidermis and has not spread deeper to the dermis.

    Stage 1 squamous cell carcinoma: The cancer is less than 2 centimeters, about 4/5 of an inch across, has not spread to nearby lymph nodes or organs, and has one or fewer high-risk features.

    Stage 2 squamous cell carcinoma: The cancer is larger than 2 centimeters across, and has not spread to nearby organs or lymph nodes, or a tumor of any size with 2 or more high risk features.

    Stage 3 squamous cell carcinoma: The cancer has spread into facial bones or 1 nearby lymph node, but not to other organs.

    Stage 4 squamous cell carcinoma: The cancer can be any size and has spread to 1 or more lymph nodes which are larger than 3 cm and may have spread to bones or other organs in the body.

    Recommended Reading: What Does Melanoma In Situ Look Like

    Wounds That Do Not Heal

    If you have a cut or other injury to the surface of your skin and it is taking a long time to heal, or you notice little progress, it is a sign that cancer may be growing in your body. Your immune system has to prioritize defense zones, and cancer takes priority for all available bodily resources way before your minor wound.

    Take excellent care to keep the wound clean, and consider getting blood screening done just to be cautious. If you dont see improvement after five days, call your doctor for guidance.

    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:

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    Squamous Cell Carcinoma Early Stages

    The second most common form of cancer in the skin is squamous cell carcinoma. At first, cancer cells appear as flat patches in the skin, often with a rough, scaly, reddish, or brown surface. These abnormal cells slowly grow in sun-exposed areas. Without proper treatment, squamous cell carcinoma can become life-threatening once it has spread and damaged healthy tissue and organs.

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