Warning Signs of Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is one of the most prevalent forms of skin cancers. Caused by various factors; Skin cancer accounts for 40% of all cancer cases according to Wikipedia. There are three main forms of skin cancers; namely basal-cell skin cancer, squamous-cell skin cancer and melanoma. The first two are generally grouped together as non-melanoma skin cancers while the third stands alone by itself. Skin cancers detected on time can be successfully treated without deeply invasive surgery and intensive scarring; however, understanding the warning signs of skin cancer of any variation is important. Listed below are symptoms and signs of specific variations of skin cancer along with general warning signs to look out for. Read further to know more.

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Warning Signs of Skin Cancer

Warning Signs of Basal-Cell Skin Cancer

Basal-Cell skin cancers are largely treatable without any scarring; however, it is imperative to understand the symptoms of this ailment. Basal-cell skin cancers are often mistaken for slow healing sores while the disease progresses. Any skin abnormality that presents itself in the form of a smooth and raised bump on the skin of the head, shoulders and neck should be considered an indication or a warning sign of skin cancer and needs looking into. These bumps can often be followed up by bleeding and crusting at the epicenter and sometimes red blood vessels are visually present on the boil like formation. All of these warning signs are indicative of basal-cell skin cancer and such skin abnormalities should be looked at by a doctor promptly.

Warning Signs of Squamous-Cell Skin Cancer

Squamous-cell skin cancers are the second most prevalent kind of skin cancer and it is important to understand the symptoms and warnings of this disease. Squamous-cell skin cancers present as thickened patches of skin that are both red and scaly. Squamous-cell skin cancers are most likely to occur on sun exposed parts of the skin and ulceration and bleeding is quite common. These skin abnormalities are generally dome shaped or present as firm nodules. Squamous-cell skin cancers are a little less life threatening than melanoma; however, recognizing the signs of this type of skin cancer are important as delayed treatment has often led to death or scarring to the level of disfigurement for the patient.

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Warning Signs of Melanoma Skin Cancer

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer which is treatable when detected on time; but the obvious condition for early detection is recognizing the warning symptoms of melanoma. Melanoma skin cancers present themselves on the skin in various shades that range from black to brown. Some can even appear as pink or red and these are usually the more aggressive variation of melanoma known as amelanotic melanoma. Some of the warning signs of melanoma are apparent changes to the color, size and shape of a mole. Moles are generally present at birth; however, the appearance of a new mole while you are in adulthood is something to look out for. If there is bleeding, itching, pain and ulceration on or around the site; a doctor should have a look at it to refer a biopsy that confirms or excludes this type of skin cancer.

The “ABCDE” Mnemonic for Recognizing Warning Signs of Skin Cancer

Every rash or lump that presents itself on the surface of your skin is probably not skin cancer; however, they shouldn’t go unheeded. The “ABCDE” mnemonic for recognizing signs of skin cancer could easily indicate whether you need to see a doctor to inspect your skin condition and whether you need a biopsy to rule out skin cancer. The “ABCDE” mnemonic as warning signs of skin cancer signifies the following:

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“A” stands for Asymmetry: Referring to the one-half of a birthmark or mole that doesn’t correspond with the other half.

“B” stands for Borders: This warning sign refers to irregular, notched, blurred or ragged borders of a skin lesion which can indicate skin cancer.

“C” stands for Color: In reference to the different and varying shades of the same skin lesion, which can be a warning sign of cancer.

“D” stands for Diameter: Which suggests that any lesion or spot that is larger than one fourth of an inch is probably indicative of skin cancer.

“E” stands for Evolving: In reference to the changing colors, shape and size of a skin abnormality which should not be ignored and should be considered another warning sign of skin cancer.

Using the “ABCDE” mnemonic is quite an accurate way of looking out for skin cancers, which is best followed up by an immediate visit to the doctor’s office.

Overview of the Warning Signs of Skin Cancers

To be fully aware and to prevent late detection of skin cancers look out for generalized warning signs such as:

  • A sore on the skin that fails to heal in spite of general treatment.
  • A growing spot on the skin defined by the advancement of pigments from its borders to the surrounding skin is an important warning sign of skin cancer.
  • Itching, tenderness and pain on and around the location of a skin spot or mole can be indicative of skin cancer.
  • Redness surrounding the borders of a skin spot accompanied by tenderness should not be ignored.
  • Changes to the surface of a mole in terms of redness, bleeding, ulceration, growth and scaling are also a warning sign of skin cancer.

In conclusion; being aware of your body and being cautious about changes to your skin can largely serve to detect skin cancers on time.

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Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: April 9, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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