Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

Can Age Spots Turn Into Cancer?

Yes, some age spots can turn into cancer. So it is important for you to identify an age spot and a skin cancer, so that you can consult a doctor and get the required treatment before it’s too late.

Age spots are also called liver spots/solar lentigines, which are small darker areas on your skin. These occur mainly in the areas in your body which are exposed to sun, like your hands, arms, shoulders, and face. Age spots are commonly seen in adults older than 50 years, but even younger people can get them if they are exposed to sun most of the time.

Can Age Spots Turn Into Cancer?

  • Age spots are usually range from light brown to black in color.
  • Spots are flat and have the same texture as your skin.
  • Well defines margin.
  • Age spots can appear in different shapes, usually oval and it looks similar to freckles.
  • Sometimes ages spots clumps together and can form a large discoloration in your skin.
  • They do not cause any pain and it does not penetrate the skin.

What Age Spot Changes Are Suggestive of Cancer?

Some of these age spots can turn into a skin cancer. It’s important for you to identify these cancerous spots early and consult a doctor.
Follow this “ABCDE” steps when examining a mole and other skin spots:

  • Asymmetry – if you draw an imaginary line dividing the spot, if one half is not equal in shape to the other half it’s an asymmetrical spot. This increases it being a cancer. Borders that are irregular, uneven and blurred.
  • Color that varies from one area to another. There can be shades of brown, black, white, pink, red or blue.
  • Diameter – more than 6 mm (larger than an eraser on top of the pencil).
  • Evolving – changing in color or shape, increasing in size.

If you notice any of the above changes in you mole or skin spot, consult your dermatologist immediately.

Pre-cancerous Conditions

There are some precancerous skin conditions that you need to identify these as this have an increased risk of changing into a skin cancer.

  1. Actinic keratosis (can cause squamous cell carcinoma)

    • Prolong exposure to sun can cause areas of hyperkeratosis (increase keratosis) in the skin, which may turn into a cancer.
    • Site- commonly found on the backs of the fingers and hands, face and rim of the ears.
    • Shape - raised from the skin surface, shape may vary.
    • Size – few millimeters to 1 cm.
    • Color – thickened patches of skin have a yellow-grey or red-brown in color.
  2. Mole/pigmented nevus (can cause malignant melanoma)

    Moles are seen commonly in the skin and all of these are not cancerous. Sometimes suddenly a brown discolored patch can appear which can be cancerous. Changes that suggest of a cancerous mole is

    • Loss of the normal skin markings (creases) over the mole. The skin may also become rough and scaly.
    • Increase in size, shape or thickness – long standing mole, or a recently developed brown spot which grew suddenly over a period of few weeks or months. Mole becomes wider, thicker and raise from the skin surface.
    • The whole mole or some parts get darker (black, purple).
    • Bleeding occurs from the mole.

Conclusion

Age spots can turn into skin cancers. It is important for you to identify what are the age spots and what are the precancerous lesions or the skin cancers patches. Age spots are seen in sun expose areas, they are brown to black in color, flat on the surface, size can vary from few millimeters to 1cm, spots have a well-defined margin, and oval in shape and similar to freckles. Follow the “ABCDE” steps in identifying lesion that can be cancer. Asymmetry of the mole or spot, borders are irregular and blurred, color that varies from one area to another, diameter of more than 6mm and the spot changing in shape, size and color.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: August 28, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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