What Does Melanoma Look Like
Melanoma is a type of cancer that begins in melanocytes . Below are photos of melanoma that formed on the skin. Melanoma can also start in the eye, the intestines, or other areas of the body with pigmented tissues.
Often the first sign of melanoma is a change in the shape, color, size, or feel of an existing mole. However, melanoma may also appear as a new mole. People should tell their doctor if they notice any changes on the skin. The only way to diagnose melanoma is to remove tissue and check it for cancer cells.
Thinking of “ABCDE” can help you remember what to look for:
- Asymmetry: The shape of one half does not match the other half.
- Border that is irregular: The edges are often ragged, notched, or blurred in outline. The pigment may spread into the surrounding skin.
- Color that is uneven: Shades of black, brown, and tan may be present. Areas of white, gray, red, pink, or blue may also be seen.
- Diameter: There is a change in size, usually an increase. Melanomas can be tiny, but most are larger than the size of a pea .
- Evolving: The mole has changed over the past few weeks or months.
Melanomas can vary greatly in how they look. Many show all of the ABCDE features. However, some may show changes or abnormal areas in only one or two of the ABCDE features.
How To Spot A Bcc: Five Warning Signs
Check for BCCs where your skin is most exposed to the sun, especially the face, ears, neck, scalp, chest, shoulders and back, but remember that they can occur anywhere on the body. Frequently, two or more of these warning signs are visible in a BCC tumor.
Please note: Since not all BCCs have the same appearance, these images serve as a general reference to what basal cell carcinoma looks like.
An open sore that does not heal
A reddish patch or irritated area
A small pink growth with a slightly raised, rolled edge and a crusted indentation in the center
A shiny bump or nodule
A scar-like area that is flat white, yellow or waxy in color
What Is Malignant Melanoma
Malignant melanoma is a one of the subtypes of skin cancer. All skin cancers have the potential to be locally invasive and spread to other parts of the body. Malignantmelanoma is a highly aggressive skin cancer that tends to spread to other parts of the body. Non-melanoma skin cancers are comparatively less aggressive. Self-examination of the skin for suspicious changes, changes in existing moles, non-healing inflammation, ulcers or other abnormalities can help detect skin cancer at its earliest stages. Early detection of skin cancer gives you the greatest chance for successful skin cancer treatment.
Also Check: How Severe Is Skin Cancer
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.
What Does Skin Cancer Look Like
Basal cell carcinoma
BCC frequently develops in people who have fair skin. People who have skin of color also get this skin cancer.
BCCs often look like a flesh-colored round growth, pearl-like bump, or a pinkish patch of skin.
BCCs usually develop after years of frequent sun exposure or indoor tanning.
BCCs are common on the head, neck, and arms however, they can form anywhere on the body, including the chest, abdomen, and legs.
Early diagnosis and treatment for BCC are important. BCC can grow deep. Allowed to grow, it can penetrate the nerves and bones, causing damage and disfigurement.
Squamous cell carcinoma of the skin
People who have light skin are most likely to develop SCC. This skin cancer also develops in people who have darker skin.
SCC often looks like a red firm bump, scaly patch, or a sore that heals and then re-opens.
SCC tends to form on skin that gets frequent sun exposure, such as the rim of the ear, face, neck, arms, chest, and back.
SCC can grow deep into the skin, causing damage and disfigurement.
Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent SCC from growing deep and spreading to other areas of the body.
SCC can develop from a precancerous skin growth
People who get AKs usually have fair skin.
AKs usually form on the skin that gets lots of sun exposure, such as the head, neck, hands, and forearms.
Because an AK can turn into a type of skin cancer, treatment is important.
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Screening For Skin Cancer
Again, the best way to screen for skin cancer is knowing your own skin. If you are familiar with the freckles, moles, and other blemishes on your body, you are more likely to notice quickly if something seems unusual.
To help spot potentially dangerous abnormalities, doctors recommend doing regular self-exams of your skin at home. Ideally, these self-exams should happen once a month, and should involve an examination of all parts of your body. Use a hand-held mirror and ask friends or family for help so as to check your back, scalp, and other hard-to-see areas of skin. If you or someone else notices a change on your skin, set up a doctors appointment to get a professional opinion.
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!
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The Abcdes Of Melanoma
Melanoma is less common than SCC, but is far more dangerous, because of its tendency to spread to other organs when not treated early enough. When caught early, like other common skin cancers, it is usually easily and successfully treated — the 5-year survival rate for early-detection of melanoma is 98%. Melanomas can look a variety of different ways and sometimes appear on a new or existing mole or on otherwise healthy skin. There are some common signs that you can look for when checking your skin. Women should especially look on their legs, while men should look on their torsos — these are common areas for melanoma to develop. But be diligent to check your whole body, as melanomas can grow anywhere on your body, regardless of your skin tone. Use the ABCDEs of melanoma to help you identify possible cancerous spots. A for asymmetrical — the two halves of the spot dont match. B for border — the edges of the spot arent even, but are scalloped or notched. C for color — a multi-colored mole or one that develops blue, white or red colors . D for diameter — a mole that is bigger than a pencil eraser in diameter is a danger sign. E for evolving — a change of a mole in shape, size, color, or height OR the start of bleeding or itching should alert you to a possible melanoma. You can also use the Ugly Duckling method of checking your moles. If a mole looks different from its neighbors in size or color, its a good idea to get it checked out by a dermatologist.
How To Check Yourself
By checking your skin regularly, you will learn to recognize what spots, moles, and marks are already present and how they typically appear. The more you get to know your skin, the easier it will be for you to detect changes, such as new lesions or spots and moles that have changed in shape, size, or color, or have begun bleeding.
It is best to use a full-length mirror when checking your skin for changes or early signs of skin cancer. Observe your body in the mirror from all anglesfront, back, and on each side.
Taking each part of the body in turn, start with your hands and arms, carefully examining both sides of the hands and the difficult to see places like the underarms. Move on to your legs and feet, making sure to check the backs of your legs, soles of your feet, and between your toes.
Use a small mirror to get a closer look at your buttocks and your back. You can also use a small mirror to examine your face, neck, head, and scalp. Don’t forget to part your hair and feel around your scalp.
Read Also: What Does Basal Cell Carcinoma Look Like When It Starts
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
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.
Read Also: Does Cancer Make Your Skin Darker
Types Of Skin Cancers Of The Feet
There are a couple of different types of skin cancers that can develop on your feet and toes. They include:
Basal Cell Carcinoma This type of cancer is frequently caused by UV exposure in skin areas that receive a lot of sunlight. Its not all that common on the feet, and it is not a very aggressive form of cancer. They often appear as white or cream colored bumps on the skin and may ooze from time to time.
Squamous Cell Carcinomas A squamous cell carcinoma is the most common type of cancer of the feet. They typically stay contained to the feet, but in their most advanced stages their can spread throughout the body. It may resemble a plantars wart or a foot ulcer, and it may feel scaly. Talk to your doctor about any growths that appear on your foot that are similar in nature.
Malignant Melanoma Malignant melanomas are a very deadly type of skin cancer that often require surgical intervention to treat. It is imperative that they are caught early before they spread to other areas of the body. They are generally brown or black in color and may appear on the foot or beneath the toenail, so perform regular foot checks.
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.
Recommended Reading: What Is Basal Cell Carcinoma Cancer
What Does Skin Cancer Look Like On Your Face
As you examine your skin for early signs of skin cancer on your face, you should be checking your whole head, as well as your neck. These are the most common locations for skin cancer cases because they get the most sun exposure year-round. If you find a new or changing spot on your skin, use the ABCDE method to look for:
- Asymmetry: If you drew a line through the middle of the spot, would the two halves match up?
- Border: Are the edges of the spot irregular? Look for a scalloped, blurred, or notched edge.
- Color: A healthy blemish or mole should be uniform in color. Varying shades of brown, red, white, blue, black, tan, or pink are cause for concern.
- Diameter: Is the spot larger than 6mm? Skin cancer spots tend to be larger in diameter than a pencil eraser, although they can be smaller.
- Evolving: If the size, shape, or color of a spot changes or it starts to bleed or scab, there is potential for it to be cancerous.
Less Common Types Of Skin Cancer
This is a rare form of skin cancer that develops in the skins blood vessels and causes red or purple patches. It often attacks people with weakened immune systems, such as individuals with AIDS, or in people taking medications that suppress their immune system, such as patients whove received organ transplants.
Merkel cell carcinoma
Merkel cell carcinoma causes firm, shiny nodules that occur on the surface or just beneath the skin and in hair follicles. Merkel cell carcinoma most often appears on the head, neck and torso.
Sebaceous gland carcinoma
This rare but aggressive cancer develops in the skins oil glands. Sebaceous gland carcinomas which usually appear as hard, painless nodules can develop anywhere, but frequently occur on the eyelid, where they can be mistaken for other eyelid problems.
Recommended Reading: What Does Skin Carcinoma Look Like
Less Common Skin Cancers
Uncommon types of skin cancer include Kaposi’s sarcoma, mainly seen in people with weakened immune systems sebaceous gland carcinoma, an aggressive cancer originating in the oil glands in the skin and Merkel cell carcinoma, which is usually found on sun-exposed areas on the head, neck, arms, and legs but often spreads to other parts of the body.
Assessing The Warning Signs Of Skin Cancer
You know that skin cancer should be taken seriously. And you know that early detection is key to successful treatment of skin cancer. But what should you look for? How do you know if that spot on your nose is just a freckle or something more threatening? Find out the early signs of skin cancer so you can perform a more helpful skin cancer check on yourself and know when you need to make an appointment with the dermatologist.
Read Also: How To Get Tested For Skin Cancer
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: