What are the characteristics of skin cancer?
What is skin cancer?
Since there are no general guidelines for screening for skin cancer, most people have to rely on recognizing the signs and symptoms of the disease so that it can be identified and treated as early as possible.
Squamous cell skin cancer can cause a skin lesion (tissue injury) that looks like a wart and has an ulcer (dent) in the center. Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) of the skin often causes a white, pearly, or flesh-colored, domed tumor with a waxy appearance that may ulcerate. Signs of melanoma often include a new or existing mole with jagged edges, discoloration, or other changes.
Complications of skin cancer, such as metastases, can also cause symptoms. Melanoma can metastasize. Squamous cell skin cancer does this very rarely, and basal cell carcinoma almost never. Skin cancer most often occurs in exposed areas of the body, but can occur anywhere on the body.
What are the most common signs of skin cancer?
Any new spots that appear on the skin could potentially be skin cancer. The accurate distinction between different types of skin cancer requires biopsy and microscopic evaluation. However, the general appearance of these tumors also differs somewhat.
Basal cell carcinoma is often shiny and is described as “pearly”. They may be flat, raised, or domed, and are often pink, pale, or flesh-colored. On closer examination, small blood vessels can be seen compared to the surrounding skin. It is characteristic that the basalioma very often injures and forms an ulcer.
Squamous cell carcinoma is often elevated and crusty to the touch. They may appear scaly and have a sore in the center that is lighter in color and flatter than the surrounding area. Squamous cell carcinoma sometimes bleeds, separates, or scabs.
Melanoma is usually a change in an existing mole or the appearance of a new, unusual mole.
What are the symptoms of skin cancer?
If you notice an unusual patch on your skin, it’s important to get it checked out by a dermatologist, regardless of any symptoms.
A wound that won’t heal
Many skin cancers are initially perceived as the result of an insect bite or minor injury but become more noticeable if they do not go away with time. If you notice that the skin wound refuses to heal, even if it seems that it heals, but then reappears, you should seek medical help. As a general rule, any skin change that does not go away on its own within two weeks should be evaluated by a doctor.
Changes in an existing skin lesion
Some skin cancers are caused by damage to the skin or a mole that has been around for a long time. When freckles, moles, or other skin blemishes change, it’s important to see a doctor.
Sensitivity in skin lesions
Most often, a person does not experience any sensations associated with moles or other skin formations. With skin cancer, people may notice persistent itching, soreness, numbness, tingling, or pain. Some people describe this feeling as if ants are crawling on the skin.
What are the symptoms of melanoma?
It is important to pay more attention to possible symptoms of melanoma because this type of cancer develops and spreads quickly and is much easier to treat in the early stages of the disease. Melanoma may appear as a new mole that may look unusual, but cancer often comes from moles that have been present for a long time.
In people with paler skin, melanoma most often occurs on the legs in women and on the back in men. In people with darker skin, melanoma most often occurs on the soles of the feet, palms, under the nails of the hands and feet, and on mucous membranes (such as around the mouth, nose, and genitals).
Normal freckles, moles, and other skin lesions are most often symmetrical, while melanomas are often asymmetrical. It is helpful to think of a mole as two mentally separated halves, the two sides of melanoma will look different. However, not all normal skin spots, such as birthmarks, are symmetrical, and dermatologists consider many factors when examining a mole.
The borders (edges) of melanoma are often irregular and may appear jagged or indistinct. The lesion may also appear to be spreading, with redness or swelling in the area around the mole or darker pigment.
Melanomas often have multiple and uneven colors and shades. They may include shades of black, brown, and sometimes white, grey, red, and blue areas. Some melanomas are often described as red, white, and blue with shades of each of these colors in a single mole.
Melanoma often exceeds six millimeters in diameter. Skin lesions of this size should be checked even if they are symmetrical, and have only one color and smooth borders.