Basal Cell Skin Cancer
Basal cell cancer can occur anywhere on the body, but it typically develops on areas regularly exposed to the sun. This type of cancer may appear on your face, neck, or other body parts in the form of:
Flat patches of spots, or lesions, which may be red, purple, or brown in color
Slightly raised, brown or reddish lesions
Fully raised, bumpy lesions with a red or brown color
If you think you may be experiencing any of the symptoms of different skin cancers described above, you should call a doctor to discuss your symptoms. You may find that you simply have a large, non-cancerous mole, and can have your concerns put to rest by a professional. On the other hand, your doctor may be able to diagnose your condition and recommend treatment sooner rather than later. Either way, it is best to be on the side of caution and speak with your doctor about what youve noticed.
Each Type Of Skin Cancer Looks A Little Different
According to Dr. Wofford, Most people think of melanoma, which typically looks like a dark spot on the skin, but actually, there are many different types of skin cancer. Each type looks a little different, so in addition to understanding how to tell the difference between benign skin spots and cancerous lesions, it may be beneficial to learn a little more about the appearance of each type of skin cancer.
Ways A Precancerous Growth Can Appear On Your Skin Or Lips
A rough-feeling patch on skin that’s had lots of sun. You can often feel an AK before you see it.
A rough-feeling patch on skin
This man said that a small patch of skin on the back of his neck felt like sandpaper. Later, a visible AK appeared on his sandpaper-like patch of skin.
One or more rough, scaly bumps that may look like pimples or spots of irritated skin.
Rough, scaly bumps that may looks like pimples
The arrows on this womans face point to actinic keratoses.
Many scaly, raised spots on the skin that may look like a rash or acne breakout.
Several scaly, raised spots that may look like a rash or acne breakout
Many of the spots on this womans forehead, nose, and cheeks are actinic keratoses.
A raised, rough-feeling patch on your skin that may be red, pink, skin-colored, or gray.
A raised, rough-feeling patch that may be red, pink, skin-colored, or gray
The reddish, pink patch below this mans sideburn is an actinic keratosis.
Flat, scaly area that looks like an age spot. AKs more commonly look like age spots in people who have skin of color.
Flat, scaly area that may look like an age spot
The spot on this mans nose may look like an age spot, but its actually an actinic keratosis. AKs more commonly look like age spots in people who have skin of color.
A dry, scaly lip that never heals .
A dry, scaly lip that never heals
It may look like this man has a badly chapped lower lip, but the white, dry, and cracked skin is actually a precancerous growth.
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Brown Spots And Freckles
Freckles are small flat brown marks that most often appear on the face and other exposed parts of the body in the summer months. They are most often seen in fair-skinned people with red hair but can be seen in people with darker skin colour too. Freckles are formed when the skin is exposed to the sun. Freckles are harmless, but if one starts to look funny compared to others then its best to get it checked out.
Larger, flat, brown spots on the face and hands that start to appear in middle-aged people, known as age spots or liver spots, are properly called solar lentigines. These occur in people of all skin types if they have spent too much time exposed to the sun. Solar lentigines are harmless too but because they can sometimes turn into melanoma it is good to get them checked out, especially if they start to change colour or shape.
How Are Moles Evaluated
If you find a mole or spot that has any ABCDE’s of melanoma — or one that’s tender, itching, oozing, scaly, doesn’t heal or has redness or swelling beyond the mole — see a doctor. Your doctor may want to remove a tissue sample from the mole and biopsy it. If found to be cancerous, the entire mole and a rim of normal skin around it will be removed and the wound stitched closed. Additional treatment may be needed.
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When To See A Doctor
Although melanoma or skin cancer cases are one percent among all cancer types, majority melanoma cases are fatal. Hence, you must monitor any suspicious changes in your raised mole.
Educating yourself about bad mole vs. good mole will help in early diagnosis of melanoma. It will help doctors to treat you better.
If you see a raised mole appearing on your skin once you cross 30 or your pre-existing mole starts itching, bleeding or becomes painful, you must consult your dermatologist.
If you have a family history of skin cancer, you must be vigilant about any new changes on your skin.
Skin Cancer Warning Signs
The main symptom of skin cancer is a mole or other growth on your skin. To find these growths, you need to look for them. Some doctors recommend that you do a full-body self-exam in front of a mirror once a month.
Most skin cancers develop in sun-exposed areas like your face, scalp, chest, arms, and legs so its important to check these areas.
Its also a good idea to check places that are rarely exposed, such as your palms, genitals, your fingernails and toenails, and the soles of your feet.
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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.
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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What You Can Do
If youve already had a BCC, you have an increased chance of developing another, especially in the same sun-damaged area or nearby.
A BCC can recur even when it has been carefully removed the first time, because some cancer cells may remain undetectable after surgery and others can form roots that extend beyond whats visible. BCCs on the nose, ears and lips are more likely to recur, usually within the first two years after surgery.
Heres what you can do to detect a recurrence and safeguard yourself against further skin damage that can lead to cancer:
Raised Skin Bump: 25 Causes Photos & Treatments
Overview of raised skin bumps
Raised skin bumps are very common, and in most cases theyre harmless. They can result from a number of conditions, including infections, allergic reactions, skin disorders, and skin cancer.
Skin bumps can vary in appearance and number depending on the cause. They may be the same color as your skin or a different color. They may be itchy, large, or small. Some can be hard while others can feel soft and movable.
Most skin bumps dont need treatment. However, you should speak with your doctor if your bumps are causing discomfort. You should also call your doctor if youre concerned about any changes in your bumps or in the overall condition of your skin.
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Are All Moles Cancerous
Most moles are not cancerous. Some moles are present at birth, others develop up to about age 40. Most adults have between 10 and 40 moles.
In rare cases, a mole can turn into melanoma. If you have more than 50 moles, you have an increased chance of developing melanoma.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Your skin is the largest organ in your body. It needs as much attention as any other health concern. What may seem like an innocent cosmetic imperfection, may not be. Performing regular skin self-checks is important for everyone and is especially important if you are a person at increased risk of skin cancer. Skin cancer is also color-blind. If you are a person of color, skin cancer can happen to you. Check your skin every month for any changes in skin spots or any new skin growths. Consider taking skin selfies so you can easily see if spots change over time. If youre a person of color, be sure to check areas more prone to cancer development, such as the palms of your hands, soles of your feet, between your toes, your genital area and under your nails. Takes steps to protect your skin. Always wear sunscreen with SPF of at least 30 every day of the year. Wear UV-A/UV-B protective sunglasses, wide-brimmed hats and long-sleeve shirts and pants. See your dermatologist at least once a year for a professional skin check.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 11/19/2021.
Who Gets Skin Cancer And Why
Sun exposure is the biggest cause of skin cancer. But it doesn’t explain skin cancers that develop on skin not ordinarily exposed to sunlight. Exposure to environmental hazards, radiation treatment, and even heredity may play a role. Although anyone can get skin cancer, the risk is greatest for people who have:
- Fair skin or light-colored eyes
- An abundance of large and irregularly-shaped moles
- A family history of skin cancer
- A history of excessive sun exposure or blistering sunburns
- Lived at high altitudes or with year-round sunshine
- Received radiation treatments
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What To Do If You Notice Skin Irregularities
In addition to regular skin health self-exams at home, you should schedule an annual professional exam with your dermatologist. Even if you consistently visit your dermatologist each year for an annual skin examination, you shouldnt wait for this annual visit to report any irregularities you notice during self-checks. Contact your dermatologist right away if you notice any warning signs of skin cancer. If youre worried about skin cancer or have any other skin health concerns, you can get started working with the U.S. Dermatology Partners team by completing our online scheduling request form. We look forward to hearing from you.
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Distinguishing Benign Moles From Melanoma
Certain moles are at higher risk for changing into cancerous growths such as malignant melanoma, a form of skin cancer. Moles that are present at birth and atypical moles have a greater chance of becoming cancerous. Finding cancerous skin growths early is important because thatâs when treatment is most likely to be effective. Use this ABCDE chart below to help you see changes in your moles at the earliest stages. The warning signs include:
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What Is Skin Cancer
Skin cancer happens when skin cells grow and multiply in an uncontrolled, unorderly way.
Normally, new skin cells form when cells grow old and die or when they become damaged. When this process doesnt work as it should, a rapid growth of cells results. This collection of cells may be noncancerous , which dont spread or cause harm, or cancerous, which may spread to nearby tissue or other areas in your body if not caught early and treated.
Skin cancer is often caused by ultraviolet light exposure from the sun.
There are three main types of skin cancer:
Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are the most common types of skin cancer and are sometimes called non-melanoma skin cancer.
Melanoma is not as common as basal cell or squamous cell carcinomas but is the most dangerous form of skin cancer. If left untreated or caught in a late-stage, melanomas are more likely to spread to organs beyond the skin, making them difficult to treat and potentially life-limiting.
Fortunately, if skin cancer is identified and treated early, most are cured. This is why it is important to take a few safeguards and to talk with your healthcare provider if you think you have any signs of skin cancer.
Dog Breeds Most At Risk For Skin Cancer
Skin cancer is seen in some dog breeds more than others. In addition to heredity, we know that exposure to chemicals, sun damage and viruses can also play a part in whether your dog gets skin cancer or not.
The breeds that have a genetic risk for cancer include:
- Boston terrier
- Mixed breeds
All dogs can get skin cancer. And certain types of cancer are more common in some breeds than others. While Bichon Frises do have longer hair that protects them from the sun, they are still quite prone to different types of cancer.
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Are Skin Cancer Spots Raised Or Flat
First off, its important to state that skin cancer does not only appear in moles. Although moles are a common place for skin cancer to be seen unusual sores, lumps, blemishes, markings, or changes in the way an area of the skin looks can also be an indication that something is not right.
So whenever you see changes to the skin appear and you feel uncomfortable, go and see your doctor to take a closer look.
Warning Signs Of Dog Skin Cancer
Of course you should pay attention to any lump that doesnt go away in a few days. Bug bites and simple injuries to the skin will go away on their own within a couple of days.
As dogs get older, the risks for skin cancer do increase. So, even though most growths or bumps on your dogs skin are probably benign , do pay attention to each one that you find.
If you see any of these symptoms, it is probably time to see your vet:
- Sores that do not heal, an ulcer that doesnt heal
- Swelling that continues to get larger
- Lump or bump that does not go away in a few days
- Weight loss, with no obvious reason
- Lump that has an odd look or that changes its size, shape or color
- Rash that does not go away
- Patch of skin with an off color and no hair
Tumors in a dog can be benign or malignant . But it is really hard to tell the difference when you just look at them.
It is very important to see a vet when you discover one or more of the symptoms listed above.
Skin cancer can be removed and forgotten, or it may indicate that there is more going on, inside your dogs body. It can be an indicator of a far more serious cancer internally.
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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%.
Causes And Risk Factors
Researchers do not know why certain cells become cancerous. However, they have identified some risk factors for skin cancer.
The most important risk factor for melanoma is exposure to UV rays. These damage the skin cellsâ DNA, which controls how the cells grow, divide, and stay alive.
Most UV rays come from sunlight, but they also come from tanning beds.
Some other risk factors for skin cancer include:
- A lot of moles: A person with more than 100 moles is more likely to develop melanoma.
- Fair skin, light hair, and freckles: The risk of developing melanoma is higher among people with fair skin. Those who burn easily have an increased risk.
- Family history:
The best way to reduce the risk of skin cancer is to limit oneâs exposure to UV rays. A person can do this by using sunscreen, seeking shade, and covering up when outdoors.
People should also avoid tanning beds and sunlamps to reduce their risk of skin cancer.
It can be easy to mistake benign growths for skin cancer.
The following skin conditions have similar symptoms to skin cancer:
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