Skin Cancer Signs and Symptoms to Spot Early On
Many skin growths can appear that have nothing to do with skin cancer. Nevertheless, if you are concerned about changes to your skin, make an appointment with a dermatologist. Do a regular check-up of your skin, and don't forget the areas of your skin that you can't see; have a partner or doctor take a look at your back and other hard-to-see areas. If you develop skin cancer of any type, the faster it's addressed, the more likely you are to be able to treat it successfully.
Basal Cell Carcinoma
Basal cell carcinoma is most inclined to appear on areas of your skin that get a lot of exposure to the sun, such as the face, neck, back, hands and arms. It can take on several different appearances, sometimes looking like a pearly, flesh-colored bump or a reddish patch or pimple that just doesn't heal. Sometimes basal cell carcinoma manifests as a scaly sore that bleeds a little, heals up, then reappears. If they're left untreated, they can become crusty or ulcerous.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma also most often appears on skin that's typically exposed to the sun, including the ears. People with darker skin, however, are more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma in areas that don't receive much sun exposure. It usually shows up as a hard, scaly, red patch or bump. Sometimes the scales peel off and start to bleed, then appear to heal only to return again. When it appears on the lip, it takes the form of a hard patch. They are sometimes tender to the touch, and they can spread if not treated.
Melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, can develop anywhere on the body, including areas that never see the sun. In men, it appears most often on the torso, and in women, it's found most often on the legs. Because it often looks like a mole, it's important for you to know the location of any already-existing moles. It can look like a mole or a dark spot on the body that has irregular borders or, if on the foot, like a bruise that just doesn't heal. Melanomas tend to grow quickly, so keep an eye on any new skin growths that seem to be spreading.
While the various types of skin cancer typically form on areas of the skin that are subject to the most sun exposure, skin cancer can also turn up almost anywhere on the body. The most common sign of skin cancer is the appearance of a new growth on your skin. Any new spot or mass on the skin that doesn't heal on its own after about four weeks should be examined by a dermatologist.