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 occur 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 which are protected from sun exposure, such as the buttocks and the scalp.
In most cases, melanomas have an irregular shape and are more than one colour. The mole may also be larger than normal and can sometimes be itchy or bleed. Look out for a mole which changes progressively in shape, size and/or colour.
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.
The Ugly Duckling Sign
The “ugly duckling sign” is another warning method to help identify melanomas. Usually, moles on your body look quite similar to each other. However, compared to other moles, melanomas tend to stand out like an ugly duckling. The more you check your skin and become familiar with it, the easier it becomes to spot an ugly duckling early.
Read Also: What Is Squamous Cell Carcinoma
The Warning Signs Of Skin Cancer
Skin cancers including melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma often start as changes to your skin. They can be new growths or precancerous lesions changes that are not cancer but could become cancer over time. An estimated 40% to 50% of fair-skinned people who live to be 65 will develop at least one skin cancer. Learn to spot the early warning signs. Skin cancer can be cured if its found and treated early.
What Can I Do To Prevent Skin Cancer In My Child
The American Academy of Dermatology and the Skin Cancer Foundation advise you to:
Limit how much sun your child gets between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Use broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher that protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Put it on the skin of children older than 6 months of age who are exposed to the sun.
Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours, even on cloudy days. Reapply after swimming.
Use extra caution near water, snow, and sand. They reflect the damaging rays of the sun. This can increase the chance of sunburn.
Make sure your child wears clothing that covers the body and shades the face. Hats should provide shade for both the face, ears, and back of the neck. Wearing sunglasses will reduce the amount of rays reaching the eye and protect the lids of the eyes, as well as the lens.
Dont let your child use or be around sunlamps or tanning beds.
The American Academy of Pediatrics approves of the use of sunscreen on babies younger than 6 months old if adequate clothing and shade are not available. You should still try to keep your baby out of the sun. Dress the baby in lightweight clothing that covers most surface areas of skin. But you also may use a small amount of sunscreen on the babys face and back of the hands.
Recommended Reading: How Do You Know If You Have Basal Cell Carcinoma
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.
Learn More About Stages Of Skin Cancer
All stages of skin cancer can be serious. Delaying treatment can cause unwanted complications, and in some cases, death. Fortunately, treatments with high success rates are now available and can help you restore your confidence, balance, and health. Contact Advanced Skin Canser and Dermatology Center in Wolcott, CT to schedule your consultation today. Well be happy to answer all your questions and recommend the best treatment options!
Also Check: How To Know You Have Skin Cancer
Types Of Skin Malignancies:
- Melanoma the least common form of skin cancer, but responsible for more deaths per year than squamous cell and basal cell skin cancers combined. Melanoma is also more likely to spread and may be harder to control.
- Nonmelanoma malignancies:
These skin malignancies are typically caused by ultraviolet radiation from exposure to the sun and tanning beds.
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Prevention Of Melanoma On The Scalp
Moles can easily develop on our scalp as this area is constantly exposed to the sun. While those of us who arent bald cant slather sunscreen on our heads, we can protect this area by wearing hats or head coverings when we are out in the sun for a long period. Also, dont forget to visit your dermatologist at least once a year for a complete head-to-toe skin cancer screening.
Recommended Reading: How Many People Survive Skin Cancer
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.
Examining Your Scalp For Melanoma
A self-exam for melanoma on the scalp is best done in a well-lit room with a handheld mirror. Use a comb or your fingers to part a section of your hair and then use the hand mirror to examine your scalp. As you carefully look at your scalp, notate any red or scaly patches, pigmented moles, pink blemishes or raised moles, as these can all be signs of skin cancer. Continue parting sections of your scalp until you have examined your entire head. Any troublesome spots should be documented for your dermatologist to look at.
This self-examination can be tricky to do alone, so having a friend or family member help is a good idea. If you see a hairstylist regularly, be sure to ask him or her to point out any troublesome moles or blemishes noticed while your hair is being colored or cut. Hairstylists have a birds-eye view of the scalp and can see suspicious spots better than most.
What Does Scalp Melanoma Look Like
Melanoma is one of the most serious forms of cancer, and because its appearance can closely mimic natural moles, freckles, and age spots, it can be easy to overlook. Its important to know what to look for and perform regular skin cancer screenings to ensure you receive treatment for this condition in the earliest stages. According to Dr. Gregory Walker of U.S. Dermatology Partners in Waco, Texas, Melanoma can be easily overlooked in obvious places on the body, but many people dont know that the scalp, fingernails and toenails, and other harder to see areas often hide this condition until it has progressed to more advanced stages. Patients who know what to look for and regularly screen their skin for cancers, are much more likely to receive a diagnosis in early, more treatable stages. Keep reading to hear more from Dr. Walker about what scalp melanoma looks like and how to check for this condition and prevent serious health concerns.
How Can Hairstylists Help
Here I am with my heroes from the hair salon : Manolita Lorenzo , Georgia Megaris and Tasso Megaris .
Hair professionals are in a unique position to detect skin cancers on the scalp because they have a natural view of difficult-to-see areas during a salon visit. They also see their clients on a regular basis, often at monthly intervals, and may frequently discuss health-related topics, such as wellness, illness, diet and medical care.
A 2018 article in JAMA Dermatology found that educating salon professionals about melanoma risk can be beneficial. Previous studies have shown that hair professionals are willing to speak up when they notice a suspicious spot, and the more knowledge they have about skin cancer, the more helpful their input can be.
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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.
What Is My Skin Type
Skin types that are more sensitive to ultraviolet radiation burn more quickly and are at a greater risk of skin cancer.
All skin types can be damaged by too much UV radiation. Skin types that are more sensitive to UV radiation burn more quickly and are at a greater risk of skin cancer.
People with naturally very dark skin still need to take care in the sun even though they may rarely, if ever, get sunburnt. The larger amount of melanin in very dark skin provides natural protection from UV radiation. This means the risk of skin cancer is lower.
Eye damage can occur regardless of skin type. High levels of UV radiation have also been linked to harmful effects on the immune system.
Vitamin D deficiency may be a greater health concern for people with naturally very dark skin, as it is more difficult for people with this skin type to make vitamin D.
Also Check: Does Skin Cancer Change Colors
Looking For Signs Of Skin Cancer
Non melanoma skin cancers tend to develop most often on skin thats exposed to the sun.
To spot skin cancers early it helps to know how your skin normally looks. That way, youll 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 youre regularly outside in the sun for work or leisure.
You can take a photo of anything that doesnt look quite right. If you can its 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 its changing. You can then show these pictures to your doctor.
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:
Read Also: Is Squamous Cell Carcinoma Dangerous
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:
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
Also Check: Does Basal Cell Carcinoma Need To Be Removed
How Can I Help My Child Live With Skin Cancer
If your child has skin cancer, you can help him or her during treatment in these ways:
Your child may have trouble eating. A dietitian or nutritionist may be able to help.
Your child may be very tired. He or she will need to learn to balance rest and activity.
Get emotional support for your child. Counselors and support groups can help.
Keep all follow-up appointments.
Keep your child out of the sun.
After treatment, check your child’s skin every month or as often as advised.