The Ugly Duckling Method
The ugly duckling method works on the premise that a personâs moles tend to resemble one another. If one mole stands out in any way, it may indicate skin cancer.
Of course, not all moles and growths are cancerous. However, if a person notices any of the above characteristics, they should speak with a doctor.
When To See A Doctor
It is always vital to seek medical advice early for a skin change, no matter how small it may appear. Make an appointment with your doctor for a skin exam if you notice:
- Any new changes, lesions, or persistent marks on your skin
- A mole that is asymmetrical, has an irregular border, is multicolored, is large in diameter, is evolving, or has begun to crust or bleed
- An “ugly duckling” mole on the skin
- Any changes to your skin that you are concerned about
What Is A Squamous Cell
One of three main types of cells in the top layer of the skin , squamous cells are flat cells located near the surface of the skin that shed continuously as new ones form.
SCC occurs when DNA damage from exposure to ultraviolet radiation or other damaging agents trigger abnormal changes in the squamous cells.
Don’t Miss: What Is The Main Cause Of Skin Cancer
What Do The Results Mean
If a mole or other mark on your skin looks like it might be a sign of cancer, your provider will probably order another test, called a skin biopsy, to make a diagnosis. A skin biopsy is a procedure that removes a small sample of skin for testing. The skin sample is looked at under a microscope to check for cancer cells. If you are diagnosed with skin cancer, you can begin treatment. Finding and treating cancer early may help prevent the disease from spreading.
Dont Miss: What Is Soft Tissue Carcinoma
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.
You May Like: How Fast Does Subungual Melanoma Grow
Curettage Electrodesiccation And Cryotherapy
Some dermatologists perform curettage, electrodesiccation, and cryotherapy to treat skin cancer. These are considered to be destructive techniques that are best suited for small, superficial carcinomas with definite borders. During the procedure, layers of skin cells are scraped away using a curette. Any remaining cancer cells are destroyed with the use of an electric needle.
In some cases, liquid nitrogen or cryotherapy is used to freeze the margins of the treatment area. Extremely low temperatures kill the malignant skin cells and create a wound, which will heal in a few weeks. The treatment may leave scars that are flat and round, similar to the size of the skin cancer lesion.
How Do You Tell The Difference Between Skin Cancer And A Bug Bite
Its not always easy. A painful patch on your skin could be a sign of skin cancer, but it could also be an insect bite.; If its an itchy spot, it could be a sign of skin cancer, but it could also be an insect bite or an allergic reaction to something.
The Skin Cancer Foundation provides a list of five warning signs of skin cancer1:
- A scar-like area that is white, yellow or waxy, with the skin appearing shiny and taut.; This may indicate the presence of an invasive basal cell carcinoma.
- An open sore; this area may bleed or ooze, scab over, then continue the process and never fully heal. This is a very common sign of basal cell carcinoma.
- A reddish patch or irritated area. These areas are frequently found on the face, chest, shoulders, arms or legs. They may itch or hurt, or there may be no discomfort.
- A shiny bump or nodule; this can be pearly or clear in color, but can also be pink, red, or white, or even tan, black or brown in dark-haired people and can be confused with a mole.
- A pink growth with an elevated border and crusted indentation in the middle, which slowly grows larger. Blood vessels may appear on the surface as the area grows.
Read Also: How Bad Is Melanoma Skin Cancer
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.
Basal Cell And Squamous Cell Carcinomasigns And Symptoms
The most common warning sign of skin cancer is a change on the skin, especially a new growth or a sore that doesn’t heal. The cancer may start as a small, smooth, shiny, pale or waxy lump. It also may appear as a firm red lump. Sometimes, the lump bleeds or develops a crust.
Both basal and squamous cell cancers are found mainly on areas of the skin that are exposed to the sun the head, face, neck, hands and arms. But skin cancer can occur anywhere.
An early warning sign of skin cancer is the development of an actinic keratosis, a precancerous skin lesion caused by chronic sun exposure. These lesions are typically pink or red in color and rough or scaly to the touch. They occur on sun-exposed areas of the skin such as the face, scalp, ears, backs of hands or forearms.
Actinic keratoses may start as small, red, flat spots but grow larger and become scaly or thick, if untreated. Sometimes they’re easier to feel than to see. There may be multiple lesions next to each other.
Early treatment of actinic keratoses may prevent them from developing into cancer. These precancerous lesions affect more than 10 million Americans. People with one actinic keratosis usually develop more. Up to 1 percent of these lesions can develop into a squamous cell cancer.
Basal cell carcinoma is the most commonly diagnosed skin cancer. In recent years, there has been an upturn in the diagnoses among young women and the rise is blamed on sunbathing and tanning salons.
- Raised, dull-red skin lesion
Also Check: What Is The Most Aggressive Skin Cancer
Early Signs Of Skin Cancer To Look Out For
Detecting skin cancer early is the best way to ensure it is treated successfully. But how can skin cancer be detected early? The good thing about skin cancer is that it leaves easily identifiable marks on our bodies long before it becomes a serious problem. During skin cancer screenings your dermatologist will look for these telltale signs. Well help you identify them so that you can be on the lookout when youre at home and, therefore, spot skin cancer early.
There are three common types of skin cancer; basal cell carcinoma , squamous cell carcinoma , and melanoma. BCC and SCC are far more common than melanoma and are both non-life threatening. Melanoma, on the other hand, is the more aggressive of the three and typically causes serious complications, including death.
How Serious Is My Cancer
If you have skin cancer, the doctor will want to find out how far it has spread. This is called staging.
Basal and squamous cell skin cancers dont spread as often as some other types of cancer, so the exact stage might not be too important. Still, your doctor might want to find out the stage of your cancer to help decide what type of treatment is best for you.
The stage describes the growth or spread of the cancer through the skin. It also tells if the cancer has spread to other parts of your body that are close by or farther away.
Your cancer can be stage 0, 1, 2, 3, or 4. The lower the number, the less the cancer has spread. A higher number, like stage 4, means a more serious cancer that has spread beyond the skin. Be sure to ask the doctor about the cancer stage and what it means for you.
Other things can also help you and your doctor decide how to treat your cancer, such as:
- Where the cancer is on your body
- How fast the cancer has been growing
- If the cancer is causing symptoms, such as being painful or itchy
- If the cancer is in a place that was already treated with radiation
- If you have a weakened immune system
Recommended Reading: What Are The Early Stages Of Melanoma
Recommended Reading: How Do You Know If Squamous Cell Carcinoma Has Spread
Cancerous: Squamous Cell Carcinoma
What it is: Squamous cell cancer develops in the cells that make up the outer layer of the skin. According to Dr. Rosen, squamous cell carcinomas that turn up on areas of the skin that havent had much sun-exposure have a higher risk of spreading than those found on sun-damaged skin.
What it looks like: Squamous and basal cell carcinomas can look very similar, appearing most often as crusted, scaly red sores or wart-like bumps. It tends to grow more rapidly than basal cell cancers.
How its treated: Like basal carcinomas, these cancers are usually treated with a topical cream or surgery. But in advanced cases, they may require radiation therapy. While squamous cell carcinomas are more dangerous than basal cell cancers, the cure rate is still 95 percent. However, squamous cell cancers must be treated right away because they can destroy skin, lip, or nasal tissue.
This story was originally published in July, 2013.
Early Detection Starts With You Part 2
In 2019, we introduced you to The Skin Cancer Foundations brand new Big See® campaign in Early Detection Starts with You, Part 1. ;In Part 2, we show you how the three simple words new, changing or unusual are changing the game and saving lives!
As The Skin Cancer Foundation approached four decades of fighting skin cancer in 2019, our team members had a eureka moment. To make a bigger impact on the worlds most common cancer, we decided, it was time for a new way of thinking about early detection. This needed a simple but strong message and a way to empower people to play a big role in detecting skin cancers early, when they are easiest to treat and even cure. Heres what happened.
Don’t Miss: What Is Squamous Cell Carcinoma
How To Diagnose Skin Cancer
First, a doctor will examine a personâs skin and take their medical history. They will usually ask the person when the mark first appeared, if its appearance has changed, if it is ever painful or itchy, and if it bleeds.
The doctor will also ask about the personâs family history and any other risk factors, such as lifetime sun exposure.
They may also check the rest of the body for other atypical moles and spots. Finally, they may feel the lymph nodes to determine whether or not they are enlarged.
The doctor may then refer a person to a skin doctor, or dermatologist. They may examine the mark with a dermatoscope, which is a handheld magnifying device, and take a small sample of skin, or a biopsy, and send it to a laboratory to check for signs of cancer.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma Treatment
Squamous cell carcinomas detected at an early stage and removed promptly are almost always curable and cause minimal damage. However, left untreated, they may grow to the point of being very difficult to treat.
A small percentage may even metastasize to distant tissues and organs. Your doctor can help you determine if a particular SCC is at increased risk for metastasis and may need treatment beyond simple excision.
Fortunately, there are several effective ways to treat squamous cell carcinoma. The choice of treatment is based on the type, size, location, and depth of penetration of the tumor, as well as the patients age and general health. Squamous cell carcinoma treatment can almost always be performed on an outpatient basis.
Don’t Miss: Can Melanoma Be Treated Successfully
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 it’s found and treated early.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma Early Stages
The second most common form of cancer in the skin is squamous cell carcinoma. At first, cancer cells appear as flat patches in the skin, often with a rough, scaly, reddish, or brown surface. These abnormal cells slowly grow in sun-exposed areas. Without proper treatment, squamous cell carcinoma can become life-threatening once it has spread and damaged healthy tissue and organs.
Don’t Miss: What Are The 4 Types Of Melanoma
S Of Squamous Cell Carcinoma On The Skin
The following pictures show many of the ways that SCC can appear on the skin.
Rough-feeling, reddish patch
This is an early sign of squamous cell carcinoma.
Round growth with raised borders
This squamous cell carcinoma developed from a pre-cancerous growth called an actinic keratosis.
A sore that won’t heal or heals and returns
On the skin or lips, squamous cell carcinoma can look like a sore.
This can be a sign of squamous cell carcinoma, which is why you want a board-certified dermatologist to examine your skin before you treat any age spot.
Raised, round growth
This is a common sign of squamous cell carcinoma of the skin.
When squamous cell carcinoma looks like this, it tends to grow quickly.
Because this common skin cancer can begin on any part of the body that has squamous cells, it can also develop inside the mouth, on the genitals, inside the anus, or in the tissue beneath a fingernail or toenail.
In these areas, this skin cancer may look like a:
Sore or rough patch
Raised, reddish patch
Brown or black line beneath a nail
Sore inside your mouth
This squamous cell carcinoma started inside the mouth and grew to cover a larger area.
Dark streak beneath a nail
Squamous cell carcinoma can look like a brown or black line beneath a nail, as shown here.
When it develops around the nail, it can look like a wart that just wont go away. If youve had a wart around a fingernail for years, its time for a dermatologist to examine it.
How Can Uv Light Cause Skin Cancer
Every time UV light hits our skin, it can damage some of the DNA inside our skins cells. This happens every time we:
Spend time in the sun without sun protection
Use indoor tanning equipment
The body tries to repair this damage. When the body can no longer repair all the damage, changes called mutations develop in our skins cells. The mutated cells, which are cancer cells, can multiple quickly. As these cells pile up, a tumor develops.
When a tumor forms in skin cells called squamous cells, we get SCC of the skin. These cells are found in the outermost layer of our skin, which is called the epidermis. The following picture shows you where these cells live.
Don’t Miss: What Are The Early Stages Of Melanoma
Cancerous: Basal Cell Carcinoma
What it is: Basal cell carcinomas are usually found on sun-exposed areas, such as the face and neck. They also tend to grow so slowly that they rarely cause any harm.
What it looks like: According to Dr. Rosen, basal cells look like a raised bump on the skin or a red scaly patch that doesnt go away. How its treated: Some basal cell carcinomas can be treated with a cream thats applied daily for several weeks, while others are below the surface and need to be surgically removed. Basal cell carcinoma is really curable, says Dr. Rosen, but it can leave you with a scar that can be quite noticeable.
Leaving Squamous Cell Carcinoma Untreated
The third type of skin cancer we have to be cautious of in Australia is squamous cell carcinoma. This is potentially life threatening and is most dangerous when found on the face, lips, ears or neck. As it grows, there is the chance it may spread to the lymph nodes and internal organs, and while it isnt as fast growing as melanoma, it still requires treatment.
You may notice squamous cell carcinoma in the top layer of your skin and it will likely be red and scaly. Surgery is often used for removal, but if it has progressed significantly some reconstruction to the face may be needed. This is the second most common form of skin cancer, and can be quite painful to touch.
All skin cancer has the potential to be fatal, and regular checks and any necessary treatment is recommended. Melanoma is by far the most serious form of skin cancer, and if suspected you should seek an urgent skin check. Please contact My Skin Centre to book your appointment in the Perth region.
Read Also: What Is The Leading Cause Of Skin Cancer