Melanomas That Could Be Mistaken For A Common Skin Problem
Melanoma that looks like a bruise
Melanoma can develop anywhere on the skin, including the bottom of the foot, where it can look like a bruise as shown here.
Melanoma that looks like a cyst
This reddish nodule looks a lot like a cyst, but testing proved that it was a melanoma.
In people of African descent, melanoma tends to develop on the palm, bottom of the foot, or under or around a nail.
Did you spot the asymmetry, uneven border, varied color, and diameter larger than that of a pencil eraser?
Dark line beneath a nail
Melanoma can develop under a fingernail or toenail, looking like a brown line as shown here.
While this line is thin, some are much thicker. The lines can also be much darker.
Basal Cell Nevus Syndrome
This rare inherited condition, which is also known as Gorlin syndrome, increases your risk of developing basal cell cancer, as well as other types of tumors. The disease can cause clusters of basal cell carcinoma, especially on areas like your face, chest, and back. You can learn more about basal cell nevus syndrome here.
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Get An Expert Evaluation
Technology has come a long way since the development of the ABCDEs of mole evaluation and so has our experience with skin cancers.
Everyone should have a baseline skin exam by a dermatologist. Think about it like a dental checkup we go in twice a year for our teeth cleaning, but we dont place the same emphasis on regular skin checks.
With regular dermatology checkups, your doctor can easily monitor suspicious spots and the changes that take place between appointments.
Theyll also likely be able to detect pre-cancerous or cancerous spots early on and intervene before they grow into a more significant problem.
Visit your dermatologist annually for these exams. Dont just rely on your family doctor alone to identify suspicious spots.
You need a specialty doctor who spends their life diagnosing and differentiating between skin conditions. Spot evaluations are among the most difficult diagnostic endeavors in medicine. Weve come a long way with devices that scan the skin for visual algorithms that evaluate factors such as color irregularity and border irregularity.
These are great at finding melanoma but theyre not very good at telling us what is not melanoma. You can put the device to nearly any dark spot and it will recommend a biopsy. Its then up to the dermatologist to know what not to biopsy. Theres no technology that determines that its up to our experience and instincts.
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Tools That Can Help You Find Melanoma On Your Skin
To help you find melanoma early, the American Academy of Dermatology developed the following:
Melanoma can look different on a childs skin. Taking this short quiz can help you hone your skills at finding childhood melanoma.
ImagesImages 1,3,4,5,6,7,8,10: Images used with permission of the American Academy of Dermatology National Library of Dermatologic Teaching Slides.
Image 2: Developed by the American Academy of Dermatology
Image 9: Used with permission of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.
ReferencesBarnhill RL, Mihm MC, et al. Malignant melanoma. In: Nouri K, et al. Skin Cancer. McGraw Hill Medical, China, 2008: 140-167.
Gloster HM Jr, Neal K. Skin cancer in skin of color. J Am Acad Dermatol 2006 55:741-60.
National Comprehensive Cancer Network. NCCN guidelines for patients: Melanoma. 2018. Last accessed February 12, 2019.
Types Of Skin Cancer On Arms
Skin cancer presents in three different types: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Basal and squamous cell carcinomas are considered non-melanoma skin cancers and are typically easier to treat than melanoma. All three types can develop on the arm.
Why is skin cancer on arms common? Sunlight and ultraviolet rays are the biggest cause of skin cancer, and since arms are more likely to poke out of t-shirts and dresses, they become more vulnerable to damage. Even though you may slather on sunscreen at the beach or by the pool, many of us forget to apply during everyday exposure sunlight is harmful year round, while sunscreen use is more frequent in summer.
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Who Is Most At Risk For Skin Cancer
Although anyone can develop skin cancer, youre at increased risk if you:
- Spend a considerable amount of time working or playing in the sun.
- Get easily sunburned have a history of sunburns.
- Live in a sunny or high-altitude climate.
- Tan or use tanning beds.
- Have light-colored eyes, blond or red hair and fair or freckled skin.
- Have many moles or irregular-shaped moles.
- Have actinic keratosis .
- Have a family history of skin cancer.
- Have had an organ transplant.
- Take medications that suppress or weaken your immune system.
- Have been exposed to ultraviolet light therapy for treating skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis.
Symptoms Of Skin Ulcers Which Are Infected Include:
- Pus draining from the skin
- Skin pain
- Skin tenderness
- Skin swelling
- Red streaks in the skin Lymphangitis of the arm and Lymphangitis of the back of the legs
At the start of the formation of an ulcer of the skin, the cells in the area of the body begin to break down and slough away, leaving the area red. Without treatment of the underlying reason for the skin degradation, the erosion of cells may eventually form a blister or bubble of fluid, just beneath the skin. This then breaks open and creates a crater. This crater is the actual skin ulcer and is generally characterized by a perimeter of skin which is surrounding a shiny, depressed center, which can be red, green or yellow depending on how much skin has deteriorated and whether or not an infection has developed.
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The Early Stages Of Skin Cancer
Some forms of cancer, especially melanoma, may appear suddenly and without warning. Most people become alarmed only when they develop a crust or sore that refuses to heal. Did you know that the early stages of cancer do not always look or feel so bad? Harmless-looking moles, skin lesions, or unusual skin growths may also be the signs of early stages.
Regular skin examination can help you spot these early clues. If you see anything suspicious or observe unusual appearances in your skin, we can help you get the right diagnosis and treatment immediately. Some forms of cancer in the skin can be life-threatening and spread without being given urgent attention.
Where Do They Occur
Skin cancers tend to occur more in sun-exposed areas of the body such as the ears, nose, forehead, upper lips, shoulders, and the back and lower legs. However, some ulcers can develop internally due to cancer under the skinan ulcer can be a result of breast or bone cancer growing close to the surface of the skin.
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How Can I Help Prevent Sun Damage And Ultimately Skin Cancer
Nothing can completely undo sun damage, although the skin can sometimes repair itself. So, its never too late to begin protecting yourself from the sun. Your skin does change with age for example, you sweat less and your skin can take longer to heal, but you can delay these changes by limiting sun exposure.
Maintaining healthy skin
- Stop smoking: People who smoke tend to have more wrinkles than nonsmokers of the same age, complexion, and history of sun exposure. The reason for this difference is unclear. It may be because smoking interferes with normal blood flow in the skin.
- Apply sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 30 or greater 30 minutes before sun exposure and then every 2 to 3 hours thereafter. Reapply sooner if you get wet or perspire significantly.
- Select cosmetic products and contact lenses that offer UV protection.
- Wear sunglasses with total UV protection.
- Avoid direct sun exposure as much as possible during peak UV radiation hours between 10 am and 4 pm.
- Perform skin self-exams regularly to become familiar with existing growths and to notice any changes or new growths.
- Relieve dry skin using a humidifier at home, bathing with soap less often , and using a moisturizing lotion.
- Become a good role model and foster skin cancer prevention habits in your child. Eighty percent of a persons lifetime sun exposure is acquired before age 18.
Understanding UV index
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How Is Skin Cancer Of The Head And Neck Diagnosed
Diagnosis is made by clinical exam and a biopsy. Basal cell and squamous cell cancers are staged by size and extent of growth. Basal cell cancers rarely metastasize to lymph nodes, but they can grow quite large and invade local structures. Squamous cell cancers have a much higher incidence of lymph node involvement in the neck and parotid gland and can spread along nerves.
Melanoma is staged, based not on size but on how deeply it invades the skin layers. Therefore, a superficial or shave biopsy will not provide accurate staging information used to guide treatment. Melanomas can have a very unpredictable course and may spread to distant organs. Melanomas with intermediate thickness often require sentinel node biopsy, a surgical procedure performed by a head and neck surgeon, to determine if microscopic spreading to lymph nodes has occurred.
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How Common Is Skin Cancer
Skin cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in the U.S.
Other skin cancer facts:
- Around 20% of Americans develop skin cancer sometime in their life.
- Approximately 9,500 Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer every day.
- Having five or more sunburns in your life doubles your chance of developing melanoma. The good news is that the five-year survival rate is 99% if caught and treated early.
- Non-Hispanic white persons have almost a 30 times higher rate of skin cancer than non-Hispanic Black or Asian/Pacific Islander persons.
- Skin cancer in people with skin of color is often diagnosed in later stages when its more difficult to treat. Some 25% of melanoma cases in African Americans are diagnosed when cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Basal Cell Carcinoma
Basal cell carcinoma is a type of skin cancer that can show up on the skin in many ways. Also known as BCC, this skin cancer tends to grow slowly and can be mistaken for a harmless pimple, scar, or sore.
Common signs and symptoms of basal cell carcinoma
This skin cancer often develops on the head or neck and looks like a shiny, raised, and round growth.
To help you spot BCC before it grows deep into your skin, dermatologists share these 7 warning signs that could be easily missed.
If you find any of the following signs on your skin, see a board-certified dermatologist.
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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 doesnât 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 theyâre 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
How Reduce Your Risk For Cancer
Factors like genetics can influence your risk of getting skin cancer, but the number-one culprit is still the sun. Naturally, the biggest thing you can do is use sun protection all the time. “You really have to wear sunscreen every single day,” Karen says. When you’re actually at the beach or spending a lot of time outside in the sun’s rays, make sure to reapply every two hours, she says.
As much as we love our SPF, Karen stresses sunscreen alone isn’t enough. “It should be one component of a smart sun strategy that includes hats, long sleeves, sun-protective clothing, and sitting in the shade,” she explains.
“If you don’t go in the sun, it doesn’t guarantee that you’ll never get skin cancer, but it does greatly decrease your risk of the big three,” Day adds.
Be sure to keep up with yearly skin checks. If you have a history of skin cancer, either personally or in your family, your dermatologist might recommend upping them to every six months. And in the meantime, don’t be afraid to see your derm about something that looks weird.
McNeill recommends making an appointment to see your dermatologist if a spot a weird bump, sore, mole, or pimple that just won’t go away is not healing after a month. “You should not have a pimple or a scab or new bump for a month,” she says.
For more on how to prevent skin cancer:
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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 doesnt heal and may bleed, ooze, or crust overCan be mistaken for: Sore or pimple
A sore that doesnt 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 its 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?
What To Expect After Treatment With Cvm
At the Center for Vascular Medicine, our mission is to help patients with their vascular diseases in a cost-effective and compassionate manner. We specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of venous and arterial diseases in the legs, feet, and pelvis. Our world-class providers are the most experienced in the specialty and work with patients to develop a treatment plan that is custom-tailored to their unique situation.
Typically, this process involves an initial consultation and ultrasound scan at one of our accredited facilities. After reviewing the results of your scan and obtaining a thorough medical history, our providers will discuss the results with you and help you decide on the next steps.
Our health care providers use several diagnostic tests to help determine what vascular diseases may be causing your symptoms. Our initial evaluations utilize ultrasound because this non-invasive imaging modality helps us verify our suspicions on whether your symptoms are caused by underlying vascular disease.
Foot Ulcer that will not heal Foot ulcer that healed for the first time after the procedure
The venous stent procedure was conducted by Dr. Satwah, physician for the Center for Vascular Medicine.
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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
How Is Venous Reflux Treated
The most common treatment for venous insufficiency is prescription compression stockings. These special elastic stockings apply pressure at the ankle and lower leg. They help improve blood flow and can reduce leg swelling. Compression stockings come in a range of prescription strengths and different lengths.
Discolored ankles is a sign of venous insufficiency Sometimes deposits of hemosiderin can accumulate under your skin when your blood flow is too insufficient to return the excess iron to your immune system to be cleared away, leaving dark pigmentation in your ankles known as stasis dermatitis.
Chronic wounds, by definition, are sores that dont heal within about three months. They can start small, as a pimple or a scratch. They might scab over again and again, but they dont get better. Aug 31, 2020
Venous Ulcer Stages Stage 1 Skin becomes red and inflamed. This stage often goes undetected because the symptoms look similar to a bug bite, bruise, or mild irritation. Stage 2 The inflamed skin may leak a small amount of fluid. The condition is more likely to be noticed at this stage.
What do leg ulcers look like? Leg ulcers are sores that can develop between your knee and ankle. They often begin as shallow ulcers with uneven edges that drain or weep a lot. Feb 15, 2021
Obesity is a risk factor for venous insufficiency. You can reduce your risk of developing it and slow progression by losing extra pounds.
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