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?
Skin Cancer Fatigue: What Can You Do
Im seeing a lot of young people with a skin cancer diagnosis. They have to overcome a drop in energy levels which can be hard to deal with. With melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer, this is even worse.
When found early, melanoma can be treated but the fatigue associated with it will be tough.
Skin Cancer Diagnosis Always Requires A Skin Biopsy
When you see a dermatologist because youve found a spot that might be skin cancer, your dermatologist will examine the spot.
If the spot looks like it could be a skin cancer, your dermatologist will remove it all or part of it. This can easily be done during your appointment. The procedure that your dermatologist uses to remove the spot is called a skin biopsy.
Having a skin biopsy is essential. Its the only way to know whether you have skin cancer. Theres no other way to know for sure.
What your dermatologist removes will be looked at under a microscope. The doctor who examines the removed skin will look for cancer cells. If cancer cells are found, your biopsy report will tell you what type of skin cancer cells were found. When cancer cells arent found, your biopsy report will explain what was seen under the microscope.
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Get To Know Your Skin
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.
Melanoma: Tricky To Spot
Melanoma can develop anywhere on the skin but is more likely to start on the chest and back in men and on the legs in women.
Black Americans are significantly less likely to get skin cancer than whites, but when they do develop melanoma, they are more likely to develop it on the palms of the hands, the soles of the feet, or underneath the nails.
Most melanoma cells still produce the pigment melanin, so they are often tan, black, or brown, but they can also contain colors of red, white, and blue, says the American Academy of Dermatology Association .
The most basic way to spot a possible malignancy is to use the ugly duckling approach. Ask yourself whether any spot looks different than all the other ones around it it might be larger and darker, for instance, or it might be a small red mole surrounded by bigger brown moles.
The ABCDE system is another way to assess whether a mole or other spot is worrisome. ABCDE is an acronym, the individual letters of which each stand for a warning sign of melanoma:
- A is for asymmetry. One half does not match the other.
- B is for border. Edges are scalloped or notched.
- C is for color. There are several different shades of brown, tan, or black, or colors like red, blue, or white.
- D is for diameter. The spot is bigger than the eraser on a pencil, about 1/4 inch .
- E is for evolving. There are changes in size, color, shape, or elevation.
Some melanomas dont neatly fit into the ABCDE categories, says the ACS. Other danger signs also include:
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Signs That Your Cancer Has Spread
Melanoma can spread to other parts of your body, including your lymph nodes, brain, liver, and lungs. Your symptoms can give clues to where the cancer has spread.
Cancer that has spread beyond the original part of your body where it began is called metastatic cancer. General symptoms of metastatic skin cancer can include:
What Are The Symptoms Of Skin Cancer Of The Head And Neck
Skin cancers usually present as an abnormal growth on the skin. The growth may have the appearance of a wart, crusty spot, ulcer, mole or sore. It may or may not bleed and can be painful. If you have a preexisting mole, any change in the characteristics of this spot – such as a raised or an irregular border, irregular shape, change in color, increase in size, itching or bleeding – are warning signs of melanoma. Sometimes the first sign of melanoma or squamous cell cancer is an enlarged lymph node.
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Look At What You Can Control
Some people say that putting their lives in order helps. Being involved in your health care, keeping your appointments, and making changes in your lifestyle are among the things you can control. Even setting a daily schedule can give you a sense of control. And while no one can control every thought, some say that they try not to dwell on the fearful ones, but instead do what they can to enjoy the positive parts of life.
Red Flags For Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Like basal cell cancer, squamous cell cancer tends to develop on parts of the body that get a lot of sun, such as the face, neck, ear, lip, and back of the hands.
It might also appear in scars or skin sores anywhere on the body
While squamous cell carcinoma can look like a flat area closely resembling healthy skin, there may be clearer signs of malignancy, according to the SCF, including:
- Rough or scaly red patches that may bleed or crust
- Raised growths or lumps, sometimes with a depression in the center
- Open sores, possibly with oozing or crusted areas, that dont heal or that go through cycles of healing and bleeding
- Growths that resemble warts
Certain skin conditions may be precursors to squamous cell carcinoma, or even early forms of it:
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More Pictures Of Basal Cell Carcinoma
While the above pictures show you some common ways that BCC can appear on the skin, this skin cancer can show up in other ways, as the following pictures illustrate.
Scaly patch with a spot of normal-looking skin in the center
On the trunk, BCC may look like a scaly patch with a spot of normal-looking skin in the center and a slightly raised border, as shown here.
Basal cell carcinoma can be lighter in some areas and darker in others
While BCC tends to be one color, it can be lighter in some areas and darker in others, as shown here.
Basal cell carcinoma can be brown in color
Most BCCs are red or pink however, this skin cancer can be brown, as shown here.
Basal cell carcinoma can look like a group of shiny bumps
BCC can look like a group of small, shiny bumps that feel smooth to the touch.
Basal cell carcinoma can look like a wart or a sore
The BCC on this patients lower eyelid looks like a wart* in one area and a sore** in another area.
If you see a spot or growth on your skin that looks like any of the above or one that is growing or changing in any way, see a board-certified dermatologist.
Do I Have Cancer Do Not Take Serious & Consult To Doctor
Cancer kills thousands of people yearly and only a few live to say they beat it. A lot of people have the fear that they may have the disease at some point in their life. Do you think you might have cancer? Try the quiz to get an idea but get checked by a doctor.
- How often do you feel sick?
- A.& nbsp
- Sample QuestionDo you often use electronics? Pick the one used most:TV
- Sample QuestionCommonly presents withFever,Bone pain,Lymphadenopathy ,Bleeding,Abnormal testicular enlargement, and/orMediastinal MassAML
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Squamous Cell Carcinoma Warning Signs
Squamous cell carcinoma can take on many different appearances. The warning signs can include:
- a rough and red scaly patch
- an open sore that often has raised borders
- a firm, dome-shaped growth
of skin cancer deaths. It often first appears as changes to a preexisting mole. Experts recommend looking for the ABCDE signs to identify moles that could be melanoma:
- Asymmetry: one half of a mole or lesion does not match the other
- Border: the edges are irregularly shaped or poorly defined
- Color: the mole contains different colors, such as red, blue, black, pink, or white
- Diameter: the mole measures more than 1/4 inch across about the size of a pencil eraser
- Evolving: the mole is changing in size, shape, or color
Another warning sign for melanoma is the Ugly Duckling rule. Most normal moles look similar to each other. A mole that stands out from others should raise suspicion and be examined by a medical professional.
Looking For Signs Of Skin Cancer
Non melanoma skin cancers tend to develop most often on skin that’s exposed to the sun.
To spot skin cancers early it helps to know how your skin normally looks. That way, you’ll notice any changes more easily.
To look at areas you cant see easily, you could try using a hand held mirror and reflect your skin onto another mirror. Or you could get your partner or a friend to look. This is very important if you’re regularly outside in the sun for work or leisure.
You can take a photo of anything that doesn’t look quite right. If you can it’s a good idea to put a ruler or tape measure next to the abnormal area when you take the photo. This gives you a more accurate idea about its size and can help you tell if it’s changing. You can then show these pictures to your doctor.
Northern Ireland Cancer Network, December 2012
Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology VT De Vita, TS Lawrence and SA RosenbergWolters Kluwer, 2018
Cancer and its managementJ Tobias and D HochhauserBlackwell, 2015
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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.
How Is Skin Cancer Treated
Treatment depends upon the stage of cancer. Stages of skin cancer range from stage 0 to stage IV. The higher the number, the more cancer has spread.
Sometimes a biopsy alone can remove all the cancer tissue if the cancer is small and limited to your skins surface only. Other common skin cancer treatments, used alone or in combination, include:
Cryotherapy uses liquid nitrogen to freeze skin cancer. The dead cells slough off after treatment. Precancerous skin lesions, called actinic keratosis, and other small, early cancers limited to the skins top layer can be treated with this method.
This surgery involves removing the tumor and some surrounding healthy skin to be sure all cancer has been removed.
With this procedure, the visible, raised area of the tumor is removed first. Then your surgeon uses a scalpel to remove a thin layer of skin cancer cells. The layer is examined under a microscope immediately after removal. Additional layers of tissue continue to be removed, one layer at a time, until no more cancer cells are seen under the microscope.
Mohs surgery removes only diseased tissue, saving as much surrounding normal tissue as possible. Its most often used to treat basal cell and squamous cell cancers and near sensitive or cosmetically important areas, such as eyelids, ears, lips, forehead, scalp, fingers or genital area.
Curettage and electrodesiccation
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Does Skin Cancer Affect People With Skin Of Color
People of all skin tones can develop skin cancer. If you are a person of color, you may be less likely to get skin cancer because you have more of the brown pigment, melanin, in your skin.
Although less prevalent than in nonwhite people, when skin cancer does develop in people of color, its often found late and has a worse prognosis. If youre Hispanic, the incidence of melanoma has risen by 20% in the past two decades. If youre Black and develop melanoma, your five-year survival rate is 25% lower than it is for white people . Part of the reason may be that it develops in less typical, less sun-exposed areas and its often in late-stage when diagnosed.
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 doesn’t heal and may bleed, ooze, or crust overCan be mistaken for: Sore or pimple
A sore that doesn’t 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 it’s 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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If You Find A Spot You’re Concerned About See A Doctor
“If someone has a concern about a spot, I encourage them to go see a dermatologist,” Arthur said. “Because that’s what we’re here for.”
“Does it need to be necessarily looked at today? No. But you should make your appointment and try to get in as soon as you can,” she said.
And don’t assume you’re exempt from skin cancer just because you’re not an 80-year-old, fair-skinned, tanning bed addict covered in moles. Yes, the risk is higher in people with light skin, but skin cancer can happen to anyone, according to the National Cancer Institute even those with dark skin and those who are young.
“Melanoma is the second most common form of cancer in women ages 15 to 29,” Arthur said. “Skin cancer is not just a cancer of the elderly. “
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.
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A Primer On Skin Cancer
Malignant melanoma, especially in the later stages, is serious and treatment is difficult. Early diagnosis and treatment can increase the survival rate. Nonmelanoma skin cancers include basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Both are common and are almost always cured when found early and treated. People who’ve had skin cancer once are at risk for getting it again they should get a checkup at least once a year.