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What Does Skin Cancer On The Scalp Look Like

The 5 Stages Of Nail Melanoma

What Does Skin Cancer Look Like?

Nail melanoma is a life-threatening skin cancer that grows to affect the nails, usually the big toe and thumb. This disease can prove to be very deadly, however treatments are readily available if diagnosed early.

This disease is often referred to as, Malignant Melanoma of Nail Unit or Nail Unit Melanoma.

  • The pigment producing cells of the body, called Melanocytes, is where the Melanoma cancer develops. The Melanocytes are responsible for giving our skin its color.
  • The development of Melanoma cancer, usually begins from a finger or toenail, however thats not always the case.
  • It has the tendency to affect the areas around such as the sides of nail or the nail bed. In fact, it may also spread to other parts of the body, if not treated on time.
  • The big toe or thumb is usually the first to get affected, however it may vary according to each case.
  • The Nail Unit Melanoma is divided into 3 main types:
  • Subungual Melanoma
    • Nail Melanoma is most common in light/fair skinned people as opposed to dark skinned people.

    There are 5 stages of Nail Melanoma, stated as follows

    Stage 1: aka Stage O Melanoma

    This stage is also referred to as Melanoma in situ, meaning site of origination of Melanoma. At this point, a tumor has formed on the outermost layer of the skin, epidermis.

    Stage 2: aka Stage I Melanoma

    This stage is further categorized into two:

    Stage IA: At this stage, the tumor is less than a mm deep and has no signs of an ulcer.

    Stage 3: aka Stage II Melanoma

    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.

    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.

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    What Causes Cutaneous Metastasis

    Cutaneous metastasis occurs when cancerous cells break away from a primary tumour and make their way to the skin through the blood circulation or lymphatic system. Most malignanttumours can produce skin metastasis, but some are more likely to do so than others. When the following cancers have metastasised, they have quite a high chance of affecting the skin.

    • Melanoma 45% chance of developing cutaneous metastasis
    • Breast cancer 30%
    • Cancer of the larynx 16%
    • Cancer of the oral cavity 12%

    The incidence of skin metastasis varies but is somewhere between 310% in patients with a primary malignant tumour.

    The sex and age of an individual also appear to determine the frequency of skin metastasis in certain primary cancers. The reason for this is unknown. In women, about 70% of cutaneous metastases originate from the breast. In men, cutaneous metastases are most often from the lung , colon , skin or oral cavity .

    Below lists the common internal cancers that cause skin metastasis in decreasing order of frequency according to sex and age group.

    SCC in the oral cavity Melanoma Melanoma

    Who Gets Skin Cancer And Why

    Beware: Everyone is at risk for skin cancer

    Sun exposure is the biggest cause of skin cancer. But it doesnt 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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    When Is A Mole A Problem

    If a new or existing mole begins to change shape, color, size, or becomes flaky, crusty, or begins to bleed, it’s time to make an appointment with your dermatologist to get it checked out. A mole can turn into melanoma on rare occasions. In early melanoma, the shape of a mole becomes asymmetrical and uneven.

    This photo contains content that some people may find graphic or disturbing.

    Nodular basal cell carcinoma is a type of skin cancer that is most often found on the head. This type of cancer starts in basal cells, which are tasked with making new skin cells to push the old ones toward the surface of the skin. Nodular basal cell carcinoma is responsible for 60%-80% of all basal cell carcinomas. In the United States, its estimated that 4.3 million cases of basal cell carcinoma are diagnosed every year, with 2.5 to 3.4 million of those cases being nodular basal cell carcinoma.

    This type of cancer appears as a pearl-like papule that is round and surrounded by threadlike red lines on the skin made up of tiny blood vessels. The risk of developing nodular basal cell carcinoma can be increased by spending a lot of time out in the sun, living in high-altitude and sunny locations, and radiation therapy.

    Other risk factors include:

    • Prolonged exposure to arsenic
    • Certain rare genetic disorders such as basal cell nevus syndrome

    Although this type of cancer is common, it is highly treatable, and the five-year relative survival rate is 100%.

    What Are The Types Of Skin Cancer

    There are 3 main types of skin cancer:

    • Basal cell carcinoma. The majority of skin cancers are basal cell carcinoma. Its a very treatable cancer. It starts in the basal cell layer of the skin and grows very slowly. The cancer usually appears as a small, shiny bump or nodule on the skin. It occurs mainly on areas exposed to the sun, such as the head, neck, arms, hands, and face. It more often occurs among people with light-colored eyes, hair, and skin.

    • Squamous cell carcinoma. This cancer is less common. It grows faster than basal cell carcinoma, but its also very treatable. Squamous cell carcinoma may appear as nodules or red, scaly patches of skin, and may be found on the face, ears, lips, and mouth. It can spread to other parts of the body, but this is rare. This type of skin cancer is most often found in people with light skin.

    • Melanoma. This type of skin cancer is a small portion of all skin cancers, but it causes the most deaths. It starts in the melanocyte cells that make pigment in the skin. It may begin as a mole that turns into cancer. This cancer may spread quickly. Melanoma most often appears on fair-skinned people, but is found in people of all skin types.

    Read Also: Melanoma On Nose Prognosis

    Squamous Cell Carcinoma In Situ

    This photo contains content that some people may find graphic or disturbing.

    DermNet NZ

    Squamous cell carcinoma in situ, also known as Bowens disease, is a precancerous condition that appears as a red or brownish patch or plaque on the skin that grows slowly over time. The patches are often found on the legs and lower parts of the body, as well as the head and neck. In rare cases, it has been found on the hands and feet, in the genital area, and in the area around the anus.

    Bowens disease is uncommon: only 15 out of every 100,000 people will develop this condition every year. The condition typically affects the Caucasian population, but women are more likely to develop Bowens disease than men. The majority of cases are in adults over 60. As with other skin cancers, Bowens disease can develop after long-term exposure to the sun. It can also develop following radiotherapy treatment. Other causes include immune suppression, skin injury, inflammatory skin conditions, and a human papillomavirus infection.

    Bowens disease is generally treatable and doesnt develop into squamous cell carcinoma. Up to 16% of cases develop into cancer.

    What Is The Most Common Cancer On The Scalp Of Bald Men

    What does skin cancer look like?

    Generally, the squamous cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer in bald men, but basal cell carcinoma is a close second, says Dr. Schlessinger.

    Squamous cell carscinoma. Shutterstock/Dermatology11

    Melanoma and a few less common skin cancers can also appear on the scalp.

    We are seeing an epidemic of skin cancer on the scalp as we see more sunlight and less protection from the ozone layer.

    The good news is that sunscreens are improving, but they need to be reapplied each 80 minutes if in water or sweating.

    Additionally, hats such as Tilley Hats, contain sun protection that will last for the entire duration of activities.

    So if youre part of the bald is beautiful camp, this means taking excellent care of your scalp to always be ahead of skin cancer.

    And by the way, these guidelines apply to men with darker skin.

    Dr. Schlessinger, founder of, has 25+ years of experience treating many skin conditions including melanoma. Hes founder of the Advanced Skin Research Center, a clinical facility that investigates new medications and treatments.
    Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. Shes also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.

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    Skin Cancer Of The Head And Neck Treatment

    Many early-stage small basal cell cancers or squamous cell cancers can be removed by Mohs surgery, a technique that spares normal tissue through repeated intraoperative margin testing, removing only the cancer and leaving adjacent normal tissue. Tumors with nerve involvement, lymph node involvement or of a large size are not suitable for Mohs surgery. They require a multimodality approach to treatment, with formal surgical resection and adjuvant radiation or chemotherapy.

    Melanoma is more likely to spread, and aggressive surgical resection with wide margins is required, in addition to radiation and/or chemotherapy.

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    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.

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    What Causes Skin Cancer On The Head

    The biggest cause of skin cancer on the head is overexposure to sunlight and ultraviolet rays. Too much time in the sun can cause serious disruption to your skin cells regular development, triggering them to regenerate at an abnormal pace. Body parts that are often uncovered by clothingsuch as the head, face, neck, and armsare more susceptible to sunlight overexposure, making them more prone to skin cancer development. In fact, skin cancer on the head accounts for 13% of all diagnoses.

    What To Do If You Notice Skin Changes

    Talking to my best friend about her scalp skin cancer ...

    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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    Scabs On Your Scalp Even Just A Single One Can Be Cancer Says Dr Janet Prystowsky A Board Certified Dermatologist In New York Ny With Over 25 Years Experience

    The most dangerous scab you can find on your scalp is from skin cancer, she says.

    Any scabbing condition on the scalp that does not respond to usual treatments within a month should be re-evaluated and potentially biopsied.

    Skin cancer of the scalp is frequently mistaken for one of the more common scalp problems.

    Delay in diagnosis leads to a larger and more serious skin cancer.

    Even though hair should be able to protect the scalp from the sun, frequently skin cancer may appear in part lines or areas where the hair was cut short during childhood. It can occur anywhere on the scalp, however.

    Squamous cell carcinoma, like basal cell carcinoma, is intimately linked to cumulative sun exposure.

    This is why this cancer typically appears in areas that have received heavy exposure to the sun.

    Balding men are especially prone to these non-melanoma skin cancers unless theyve habitually worn hats or sunscreen on their scalps when outdoors.

    Actinic keratosis Source:

    A precancerous condition called actinic keratosis often develops on scalps that have received a lot of sun exposure over the years.

    If left untreated, these can start looking scabby .

    About 10 percent of these atypical growths if left untreated morph into squamous cell carcinoma which can be fatal.

    This is why if you see any kind of scab development on the scalp that has a progressive natureget it checked by a dermatologist.


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    What Does Scalp Melanoma Look & Feel Like

    When it comes to looking for scalp melanoma, Dr. Walker says, Because of hair growth and general difficulty clearly seeing the top of the head, it can be a challenge to see melanoma forming on the scalp. In addition to your own examinations, you may also want to chat with your hair professional. If one person regularly cuts your hair, they may be in a unique position to screen for common warning signs of scalp melanoma, so chat with your barber or stylist at your next appointment.

    The first step to finding scalp melanoma is simple you need to know what youre looking and feeling for. Melanoma on any area of the skin usually looks like common skin conditions, which is one of the main reasons why its overlooked on other parts of the body. Melanomas may be mistaken for warts, moles, freckles, age spots, ulcers, or sores, and in some cases, they grow out of pre-existing skin growths. Melanoma lesions may bleed regularly, feel painful, or tingle.

    To differentiate between benign skin lesions and potential scalp melanoma, keep the ABCDEs of skin cancer in mind:

    • A Asymmetry Are the sides of the mole the same, or are they noticeably different?
    • B Border Do the edges of the spot look jagged or otherwise atypical?
    • C Color Is the color different from other spots on your body, or does the color vary throughout the lesion?
    • D Diameter Is the mole larger than 6 mm ?
    • E Evolution Is the mole changing in any way ?

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    Squamous Cell Carcinoma Pictures

    Squamous cell carcinoma also appears in areas most exposed to the sun and, as indicated in the pictures below, often presents itself as a scab or sore that doesnt heal, a volcano-like growth with a rim and crater in the middle or simply as a crusty patch of skin that is a bit inflamed and red and doesnt go away over time.

    Any lesion that bleeds or itches and doesnt heal within a few weeks may be a concern even if it doesnt look like these Squamous cell carcinoma images.

    How Do You Know If A Spot Is Skin Cancer

    Signs and Symptoms of Skin Cancer

    To learn more you can read this article on the signs of skin cancer or this article on melanoma symptoms, but dont forget to get any skin concern you may have checked out by your doctor.

    You can also read our guide on how to check your skin regularly, if you want to learn more about how to form a skin checking routine for yourself.

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