What Are The First Symptoms Of Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer & How Do You Test For It?

Nonmelanoma skin cancer comprises different types of cancer, which takes place in one’s skin and it does not belong to the category of melanoma. A large number of skin cancers categorize in the broad category of nonmelanoma type of skin cancer. However, the common ones are squamous and basal cell carcinomas.(1)

What Are The First Symptoms Of Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer?

What Are The First Symptoms Of Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer?

First or initial symptoms in patients suffering from nonmelanoma skin cancer depends on its specific type, according to which-

Symptoms In The Case Of Basal Cell Carcinoma

If a person suffers from basal cell carcinoma, he or she will have the following major symptoms-

  • Open sores, which ooze, bleed or crust, while remain opened for many weeks
  • An irritated skin area or a reddish as well as raised patch, which may itch or crust but hurts in rare cases.
  • The presence of a red, shiny pink, pearly white or a translucent colored bump
  • A pink colored growth in the skin with crusted indentation at the crust and an elevated border.
  • The presence of a scar type yellow, white or waxy area usually with a poor border.

Symptoms In The Case Of Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma usually causes bleeding and crust, while they appear in the form of-

  • A wart type of growth
  • A scaly and persistent red patch with irregular borders, which often cause bleeding
  • An opened sore, which persists for about a three- or four-weeks period.
  • A central depression and a raised growth that has a rough surface.

Symptoms In The Case Of Merkel Cell Carcinoma

Merkel cell carcinoma usually takes place in the form of-

  • The firm, painless and shiny skin lumps
  • Skin lumps of different colors, such as red, blue or pink

Symptoms In The Case Of Other Types Of Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer

A few types of skin cancers spread across the nerves. If this is the case, it causes pain, itching, tingling, numbness and a feeling of ants crawling beneath the skin. Also, a few patients have a bump or lump under their skin in groin, armpit or neck areas.(2)

How Do You Test For Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer?

Family And Health History: Your doctor will ask whether you have a family history of nonmelanoma or melanoma type of skin cancer. Besides, doctors will check your health or medical history, which consists of your symptoms, key risk factors and each of the medical problems or events experienced by you in the past. While considering your health history, your doctor will ask a few of the important questions related to your history, which are-

  • The extent of your indoor tanning problems and the exposure to sunlight
  • Specific signs and symptoms, which may indicate your problem of nonmelanoma skin cancer
  • Any of the inherited conditions, especially basal cell nevus syndrome and xeroderma pigmentosum.
  • Actinic keratosis i.e. a precancerous skin condition

Skin Examination: A skin examination lets your doctor check any sign or symptom related to nonmelanoma skin cancer or any abnormal area in your skin. During this examination, your doctor will check the skin surface completely, especially the skin areas often exposed to the light of the sun.

Skin Biopsy: Skin biopsy diagnoses procedure involves the removal of specific skin cells or tissues to test them in a laboratory. The report you get from a pathologist will confirm the presence of cancer cells in the collected skin cell sample. However, the type of skin biopsy depends solely on the appearance of an abnormal area or growth and its specific location. These include the following-

Punch Biopsy: In the case of punch biopsy, doctors remove the round area of a patient’s skin by using a sharp tool i.e. trephine or punch. This is useful when a patient has an abnormal area under his/her skin or if he/she has an abnormal area grown deep within the skin.

Shave Biopsy: Shave biopsy involves shaving off an abnormal skin area or growth by using a surgical knife i.e. scalpel or a flexible razor blade. The biopsy procedure is preferable to deal with raised growths. Also, it is useful for flat types of abnormal areas, which remain present only on the skin’s outer surface i.e. superficial ones.

Excisional Biopsy: Excisional biopsy is a category of surgical biopsy and hence, it removes the abnormal skin area or its complete growth by the help of a scalpel. This procedure is performed if the doctor identifies the need to examine the complete area or growth to perform a proper diagnosis.(3)

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