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.
The Abcde Of Melanoma:
Nodular Melanomas do not typically follow these guidelines – see below for guidance
You should consult your doctor if you develop any of the following signs:
- Changing shape, particularly getting an irregular outline.
- Changing colour/getting darker, becoming patchy or multi-shaded.
- An existing mole getting bigger or a new mole growing quickly.
- A mole starts to itch, becomes painful, starts bleeding, becomes crusty or inflamed.
How to detect Nodular Melanoma:Nodular melanomas do not follow the ABCDE of Melanoma outlined above.They are more even in colour and have even edges.They grow fast, downward and become quickly invasive .A good way to remember what to look out for is EFG:E = ELEVATED, F = FIRM TO TOUCH, G = GROWINGNodular melanomas are usually black, but occasionally are blue, grey, white, brown, tan, red or skin tone. The images below show some examples, but if you detect any lump on the skin that is growing quickly – seek professional medical advice immediately.
Examples of Arcal Lentiginous MelanomaUnlike other melanomas Arcal Lentiginous Melanoma is usually located on the palms of hands, soles of feet and under nails and appears as a black discolouration.This type of melanoma is more common in Asians and African-Americans and less common among Caucasians and can advance faster than Lentigo Maligna and Superficial Spreading Melanoma.These are examples of Arcal Lentiginous Melanoma:
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The Abcdes Of Melanoma
The first five letters of the alphabet are a guide to help you recognize the warning signs of melanoma.
A is for Asymmetry. Most melanomas are asymmetrical. If you draw a line through the middle of the lesion, the two halves dont match, so it looks different from a round to oval and symmetrical common mole.
B is for Border. Melanoma borders tend to be uneven and may have scalloped or notched edges, while common moles tend to have smoother, more even borders.
C is for Color. Multiple colors are a warning sign. While benign moles are usually a single shade of brown, a melanoma may have different shades of brown, tan or black. As it grows, the colors red, white or blue may also appear.
D is for Diameter or Dark. While its ideal to detect a melanoma when it is small, its a warning sign if a lesion is the size of a pencil eraser or larger. Some experts say it is also important to look for any lesion, no matter what size, that is darker than others. Rare, amelanotic melanomas are colorless.
E is for Evolving. Any change in size, shape, color or elevation of a spot on your skin, or any new symptom in it, such as bleeding, itching or crusting, may be a warning sign of melanoma.
If you notice these warning signs, or anything NEW, CHANGING or UNUSUAL on your skin see a dermatologist promptly.
A is for Asymmetry
D is for Diameter or Dark
E is for Evolving
E is for Evolving
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.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma Signs And Symptoms
Generally found on the ears, face and mouth, squamous cell carcinoma can be more aggressive than basal cell. Untreated, it may push through the skin layers to the lymphatic system, bloodstream and nerve routes, where it can cause pain and symptoms of serious illness.
Squamous cell cancer often starts as a precancerous lesion known as actinic keratosis . When it becomes cancerous, the lesion appears raised above the normal skin surface and is firmer to the touch. Sometimes the spot shows only a slight change from normal skin.
Other signs include:
- Any change, such as crusting or bleeding, in an existing wart, mole, scar or other skin lesion
- A wart-like growth that crusts and sometimes bleeds
- A scaly, persistent reddish patch with irregular borders, which may crust or bleed
- A persistent open sore that does not heal and bleeds, crusts or oozes
- A raised growth with a depression in the center that occasionally bleeds and may rapidly increase in size
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Can Warts Be Prevented
Its difficult to prevent the development of warts altogether, but since warts are contagious, taking steps to avoid contact with people who have warts, as well as their clothing or other items that have been in contact with warts, is the easiest way to reduce your risk for developing warts. Those who have received the HPV vaccine may also be less likely to develop warts. Additional steps you can take to prevent the development of warts and avoid spreading them to other people or other parts of the body include:
- Wear shoes in public showers, pools, saunas, changing rooms, and gyms
- Dont touch or scratch your warts other than to apply topical treatments, and wash hands thoroughly after touching warts
- Keep warts covered
- Dont shave the area directly over a wart
- Dont share towels, linens, clothing, nail clippers, pumice stones, or other items
- Immediately clean, disinfect, and cover all scrapes or scratches
- Avoid excessive dryness or cracked skin by moisturizing regularly
- Dont bite fingernails and take care when grooming your nails
- Use barrier birth control methods to avoid contracting genital warts
What Are The Early Signs Of Skin Cancer On Your Face
Approximately 85% of skin cancer spots are found on a patients head, face, eyelids, and neck region. Detection in the early stages of skin cancer is key to treatment success, but do you know how to spot the early signs of skin cancer on your face? Before we review how to discern a potentially cancerous spot in the guide below, we will first need to discuss the most common types of skin cancer and how they might present on your skin.
What Does Skin Cancer Look Like
Basal cell carcinoma
BCC frequently develops in people who have fair skin. People who have skin of color also get this skin cancer.
BCCs often look like a flesh-colored round growth, pearl-like bump, or a pinkish patch of skin.
BCCs usually develop after years of frequent sun exposure or indoor tanning.
BCCs are common on the head, neck, and arms however, they can form anywhere on the body, including the chest, abdomen, and legs.
Early diagnosis and treatment for BCC are important. BCC can grow deep. Allowed to grow, it can penetrate the nerves and bones, causing damage and disfigurement.
Squamous cell carcinoma of the skin
People who have light skin are most likely to develop SCC. This skin cancer also develops in people who have darker skin.
SCC often looks like a red firm bump, scaly patch, or a sore that heals and then re-opens.
SCC tends to form on skin that gets frequent sun exposure, such as the rim of the ear, face, neck, arms, chest, and back.
SCC can grow deep into the skin, causing damage and disfigurement.
Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent SCC from growing deep and spreading to other areas of the body.
SCC can develop from a precancerous skin growth
People who get AKs usually have fair skin.
AKs usually form on the skin that gets lots of sun exposure, such as the head, neck, hands, and forearms.
Because an AK can turn into a type of skin cancer, treatment is important.
Do Home Treatments For Warts Actually Work
According to Dr. Ellison, In most cases, we dont recommend at-home remedies for skin conditions, but warts are so common that there really are some good over the counter treatments available to clear them up. If youve never had a wart, talk to your dermatologist first, but if you develop warts often, theres no harm in treating them at home.
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Assessing The Warning Signs Of Early Stage Skin Cancer
You know that skin cancer should be taken seriously. And you know that early detection is key to successful treatment of skin cancer. But what should you look for? How do you know if that spot on your nose is just a freckle or something more threatening? Find out the early signs of skin cancer so you can perform a more helpful skin cancer check on yourself and know when you need to make an appointment with the dermatologist.
Getting The Best Treatment
The good news is, weve taken the stress out of seeing a dermatologist. You dont have to look far for excellent dermatology services. Best of all, theres no waiting.
In many parts of New York and throughout the country, patients often wait weeks before they can see a board-certified dermatologist and receive a diagnosis, much less actual treatment.
Thats no longer necessary.
At Walk-in Dermatology, patients can see a board-certified dermatologist seven days a week. Our dermatologists will evaluate your skin and answer all your questions. We will work with you to set up a treatment plan to address your skin condition and get at the root of your issue all convenient to your schedule.
No more waiting days or even weeks to see a dermatologist. Walk-in Dermatology is here for you. We are open and ready to help you regain healthy skin that positively glows with a youthful look.
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Basal Cell Carcinoma Signs And Symptoms
This type of cancer is usually found on sun-exposed areas of the skin like the scalp, forehead, face, nose, neck and back.
Basal cell carcinomas may bleed after a minor injury but then scab and heal. This can happen over and over for months or years with no visible growth, making it easy to mistake them for wounds or sores. They rarely cause pain in their earliest stages.
In addition to the bleeding and healing, these are other possible signs of a basal cell cancer:
- A persistent open sore that does not heal and bleeds, crusts or oozes.
- A reddish patch or irritated area that may crust or itch.
- A shiny bump or nodule that is pearly or translucent and often pink, red or white. It can also be tan, black or brown, especially in dark-haired people, and easy to confuse with a mole.
- A pink growth with a slightly elevated, rolled border and a crusted indentation in the center. Tiny blood vessels may appear on the surface as the growth enlarges.
- A scar-like lesion in an area that you have not injured. It may be white, yellow or waxy, often with poorly defined borders. The skin seems shiny and tight sometimes this can be a sign of an aggressive tumor.
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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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.
Signs And Symptoms Of Melanoma
The most common sign of melanoma is the appearance of a new mole or a change in an existing mole.
This can happen anywhere on the body, but the most commonly affected areas are the back in men and the legs in women.
Melanomas are uncommon in areas that are protected from sun exposure, such as the buttocks and the scalp.
In most cases, melanomas have an irregular shape and are more than 1 colour.
The mole may also be larger than normal and can sometimes be itchy or bleed.
Look out for a mole that gradually changes shape, size or colour.
Superficial spreading melanoma are the most common type of melanoma in the UK.
They’re more common in people with pale skin and freckles, and much less common in people with darker skin.
They initially tend to grow outwards rather than downwards, so they do not pose a problem.
But if they grow downwards into the deeper layers of skin, they can spread to other parts of the body.
You should see a GP if you have a mole that’s getting bigger, particularly if it has an irregular edge.
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Why Are Warts Associated With Witches & Frogs
Its that time of year, so if your kids have heard that only witches have warts or that you get warts by touching frogs, we have some good news for you. Thats not true! The skin of frogs and toads may look like its covered in warts, but thats just their skin. You can touch as many frogs as youd like, or kiss all the toad princes this Halloween, but you wont be at risk for developing warts. However, if you touch a human who has warts, you may develop a few of your own, so avoid contact with other people who have warts.
Another common Halloween-centric story about warts is that only witches have them. In fact, during the Salem witch trials, warts were called the devils mark and were considered to be an effect of engaging in witchcraft. These superstitions may seem harmless by modern standards, but they were very dangerous in the 17th century when engaging in magical rights carried a death sentence. Today, we know that warts develop as a result of exposure to HPV not magic. Its safe to say, warts are fun costume additions, but theyre not really a sign that someone you know is a witch.
Knowledge Is Your Best Defense
What Is Skin Cancer?
Skin cancer is the out-of-control growth of abnormal cells in the epidermis, the outermost skin layer, caused by unrepaired DNA damage that triggers mutations. These mutations lead the skin cells to multiply rapidly and form malignant tumors. The main types of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma , squamous cell carcinoma , melanoma and Merkel cell carcinoma .
The two main causes of skin cancer are the suns harmful ultraviolet rays and the use of UV tanning beds. The good news is that if skin cancer is caught early, your dermatologist can treat it with little or no scarring and high odds of eliminating it entirely. Often, the doctor may even detect the growth at a precancerous stage, before it has become a full-blown skin cancer or penetrated below the surface of the skin.
Americans will develop skin cancer by age 70.
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The Different Types Of Skin Cancer: Melanoma Vs Non
The first thing to note when youre looking for early signs of skin cancer is that there is a distinction between melanoma and non-melanoma strains of the disease.
Non-melanoma skin cancers are the most common, and they begin within the deeper layers of your skin, which means that you might not notice any symptoms straight away. Melanoma cancers, on the other hand, are distinctly more dangerous and occur within the upper and middle layers of the skin.
Melanoma cancers are more aggressive because they can often spread to other parts of the body, leading to a more comprehensive disease. Both types of skin cancer can occur anywhere on the body, but they often appear most on areas frequently exposed to the sun.
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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The Five Stages Of Skin Cancer
Cancer in the skin thats at high risk for spreading shares features with basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Some of these features are:
- Not less than 2 mm in thickness
- Has spread into the inner layers of the skin
- Has invaded skin nerves
In the earliest stage, cancer is only present in the upper layer of the skin. You may notice the appearance of blood vessels or a dent in the center of the skin growth. There are no traces of malignant cells beyond this layer.
At stage 1, cancer has not spread to muscles, bone, and other organs. It measures roughly 4/5 of an inch. Theres a possibility that it may have spread into the inner layer of the skin.
In this stage, cancer has become larger than 4/5 of an inch. Cancer still has not spread to muscles, bone, and other organs.
At stage 3, the cancer is still larger than 4/5 of an inch. Facial bones or a nearby lymph node may have been affected, but other organs remain safe. It may also spread to areas below the skin, such as into muscle, bone, and cartilage but not far from the original site.
Cancer can now be of any size and has likely spread into lymph nodes, bones, cartilage, muscle, or other organs. Distant organs such as the brain or lungs may also be affected. In rare cases, this stage might cause death when allowed to grow and become more invasive.