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.
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
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
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 Age Spots Look Like
Age spots are very common and are usually harmless. When you hit 50 years old, youll probably start seeing age spots on your skin, especially if you have pale complexion. Theyre caused by years of exposure to UV rays from the sun. If youre out in the sun a lot, you may start getting age spots earlier than usual. Thats why its so important to take care of your skin while in the sun!
Youll usually find age spots on your hands, shoulders, arms, tops of your feet and upper back. These are the areas of your body that see the sun the most. Though age spots vary in size, youll usually see the following characteristics when identifying an age spot, according to Mayo Clinic:
- Flat and oval areas of skin discoloration
- Tan, black or brown in color
- Appear in areas that are commonly exposed to the sun
If you have age spots or any other type of cosmetic brown spot, we can help erase them. Learn more about our brown spot treatments here!
How To Check For Skin Cancer
This article was medically reviewed by . Dr. Litza is a board certified Family Medicine Physician in Wisconsin. She is a practicing Physician and taught as a Clinical Professor for 13 years, after receiving her MD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health in 1998.There are 15 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 788,620 times.
Early detection of skin cancer is important and can be lifesaving, especially for certain types of skin cancer such as melanoma and squamous cell carcinoma. It is estimated that 76,380 new cases of melanoma will be diagnosed in 2016 and over 13,000 will die from the skin cancer.XTrustworthy SourceAmerican Cancer SocietyNonprofit devoted to promoting cancer research, education, and supportGo to source Given that timing is so crucial to diagnosing and treating skin cancer, you should follow a few simple steps to learn how to detect skin cancer on your skin.
How Can I Prevent Skin Cancer
For all types of skin cancer, the first lines of defense are awareness and prevention. Prevention steps center on avoiding ultraviolet radiation exposure from both sunlight and tanning beds. This means staying out of the sun, especially when the suns rays are strongest, between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. using a broad-spectrum water-resistant sunscreen with SPF of at least 30 and covering exposed skin with protective clothing when outdoors, even on a cloudy day.
Perform a skin self-exam
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How Do I Know If I Just Have Age Spots
Age spots are often called liver spots or sunspots. They usually occur in people over 50 and in areas that are exposed to the sun.
Age spots can definitely look like cancerous growths but even if they are not diagnosed as cancer, they are clear signs that you have spent a lot of time in the sun. The age spots are the skins attempt to protect it from even further sun damage.
Age spots do not require medical care but it is still important to be looked at by a physician. They also will not fade over time but can be removed for cosmetic reasons if you should decide. It may be a sign of melanoma if spots are black, irregular, or have changed. Please contact your doctor for an evaluation if you have noticed any concerning changes.
What Are The Symptoms Of Skin Cancer In A Child
Symptoms of basal cell carcinoma appear on areas exposed to the sun, such as the head, face, neck, arms, and hands. The symptoms can include:
A small, raised bump that is shiny or pearly, and may have small blood vessels
A small, flat spot that is scaly, irregularly shaped, and pale, pink, or red
A spot that bleeds easily, then heals and appears to go away, then bleeds again in a few weeks
A growth with raised edges, a lower area in the center, and brown, blue, or black areas
Symptoms of squamous cell carcinoma appear on areas exposed to the sun, such as the head, face, neck, arms, and hands. They can also appear on other parts of the body, such as skin in the genital area. The symptoms can include:
A rough or scaly bump that grows quickly
A wart-like growth that may bleed or crust over.
Flat, red patches on the skin that are irregularly shaped, and may or may not bleed
Symptoms of melanoma include a change in a mole, or a new mole that has ABCDE traits such as:
Asymmetry. One half of the mole does not match the other half.
Border irregularity. The edges of the mole are ragged or irregular.
Color. The mole has different colors in it. It may be tan, brown, black, red, or other colors. Or it may have areas that appear to have lost color.
Diameter. The mole is bigger than 6 millimeters across, about the size of a pencil eraser. But some melanomas can be smaller.
Evolving. A mole changes in size, shape, or color.
Other symptoms of melanoma can include a mole that:
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Less Common Skin Cancers
Uncommon types of skin cancer include Kaposi’s sarcoma, mainly seen in people with weakened immune systems sebaceous gland carcinoma, an aggressive cancer originating in the oil glands in the skin and Merkel cell carcinoma, which is usually found on sun-exposed areas on the head, neck, arms, and legs but often spreads to other parts of the body.
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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When Should You Worry About A Mole
Some characteristics of a mole might mean that it is more likely to be a skin cancer.
As mentioned earlier, if a mole is an âugly ducklingâ it might be more likely to be cancerous.
When examining an individual mole, the ABCDEFG rulecan help identify a mole of concern.
|A||Asymmetry:||If you were to draw a line through the centre of the mole, the two sides would look different.|
|B||Border:||The edge/border of the spot is irregular. It might be clear in one area and indistinct in another.|
|Any raised lump that has a firm consistency and is growing is suspicious.|
Squamous Cell Skin Cancers
Squamous cell skin cancers can vary in how they look. They usually occur on areas of skin exposed to the sun like the scalp or ear.
Thanks to Dr Charlotte Proby for her permission and the photography.
You should see your doctor if you have:
- a spot or sore that doesn’t heal within 4 weeks
- a spot or sore that hurts, is itchy, crusty, scabs over, or bleeds for more than 4 weeks
- areas where the skin has broken down and doesn’t heal within 4 weeks, and you can’t think of a reason for this change
Your doctor can decide whether you need any tests.
Cancer and its management J Tobias and D HochhauserBlackwell, 2015
Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology VT De Vita, TS Lawrence and SA RosenbergWolters Kluwer, 2018
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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.
A Special Note To Young Adults
Tattoos are very common with young people these days. Statistics show that 38 percent of those between the ages of 18 and 29 have at least one tattoo.4 It is important for this generation to understand the dangers of tanning and the importance of early detection. This is especially important for this cohort as recent studies indicate that tanning salons focus their efforts on marketing to young people.5 Tattoos may lessen the chances of early detection and require special precautions.
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Don’t Panic But Don’t Ignore The Threat Of Skin Cancer Either
When skin cancers are detected early they’re usually easily treatable, Arthur said. Just remember that skin cancer can be serious when it’s advanced.
Arthur pointed to one telling example: Singer Bob Marley, who died at age 36 after melanoma spread throughout his body. The cancer began as a dark spot underneath his toenail, and Marley thought it was just a soccer injury. If it had been treated earlier, the SCF notes, that melanoma could have been treated or perhaps cured.
“Early detection is key,” Arthur said. “I would much rather have someone come in, even if it’s a benign spot, rather than to have them wait for six months and have something potentially grow.”
Learn more about skin cancer at the Skin Cancer Foundation website.
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What Causes Cancer To Form On Your Scalp
The main cause of all types of skin cancer is sun exposure. Your scalp is one of your body parts exposed most to the sun, especially if you are bald or have thin hair. That means its one of the more common spots for skin cancer.
Other potential causes of skin cancer on your scalp include using a tanning bed and having had radiation treatment on your head or neck area.
The best way to prevent skin cancer on your scalp is to protect your scalp when you go into the sun:
- Wear a hat or other head covering whenever possible.
- Spray sunscreen on your scalp.
Other ways to help prevent skin cancer on your scalp are:
- Avoid using tanning beds.
- Limit your time in the sun.
- Check your scalp regularly to spot any potential cancerous spots early. This can help stop precancerous lesions from turning into cancer or stop skin cancer from spreading. You can use a mirror to look at the back and top of your scalp more thoroughly.
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Treatment For Skin Cancer
If you are diagnosed with skin cancer, you may have multiple options for treatment. Based on the specifics of your case, your doctor will recommend your best course of action. The suggested methods for fighting the cancer may include:
Cryotherapy. In cryotherapy, a doctor freezes and kills precancerous or cancerous skin cells using liquid nitrogen. This technique is most often used to treat minor basal or squamous carcinomas or precancerous skin conditions.
Surgery. Different types of skin cancer may be removed by surgery. Surgery can be excisional – simply cutting out a cancerous area and the skin surrounding it – or may involve meticulous removal of layers of skin.
Radiation therapy. In radiation therapy, energy beams are used to kill cancerous cells. Radiation therapy may help finish off a cancer that was not fully removed by surgery, and can also be instrumental in cases that dont allow for surgery.
Chemotherapy. This type of therapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. To treat some cases of skin cancer, chemotherapy may be applied locally through topical creams or lotions. It may also be administered by IV to target multiple body parts at once.
Immunotherapy. Immunotherapy, also called biological therapy, involves boosting the immune system to fight cancer cells. With the help of strengthening medicines, the immune system may be better prepared to kill cancerous cells.
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
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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.
How Is Cancer On The Scalp Treated
Potential treatments for skin cancer on your scalp include:
- Surgery. Your doctor will remove the cancerous growth and some of the skin around it, to make sure that they removed all the cancer cells. This is usually the first treatment for melanoma. After surgery, you may also need reconstructive surgery, such as a skin graft.
- Mohs surgery. This type of surgery is used for large, recurring, or hard-to-treat skin cancer. Its used to save as much skin as possible. In Mohs surgery, your doctor will remove the growth layer by layer, examining each one under a microscope, until there are no cancer cells left.
- Radiation. This may be used as a first treatment or after surgery, to kill remaining cancer cells.
- Chemotherapy. If your skin cancer is only on the top layer of skin, you might be able to use a chemotherapy lotion to treat it. If your cancer has spread, you might need traditional chemotherapy.
- Freezing. Used for cancer that doesnt go deep into your skin.
- . Youll take medications that will make cancer cells sensitive to light. Then your doctor will use lasers to kill the cells.
The outlook for skin cancer on your scalp depends on the specific type of skin cancer:
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