Between the wide-brimmed hats and high SPF sunscreen, we do so much to protect our skin from the sun’s damaging rays. (If you don’t, you might want to read this too.) But when’s the last time you examined your skin for suspicious moles or patches? In general, adults tend to have 10 to 40 moles scattered across their body. While most moles are harmless, it’s important to check for abnormalities that may be cancerous. If you observe a suspicious mole or patch of skin that you hadn’t noticed before, don’t panic. Dermatologist Dr. Robert Miller has gathered the signs and symptoms of the most common signs of skin cancer below to help you define your symptoms before you see a dermatologist for a more adequate diagnosis.
Read on for a list of common signs and symptoms of skin cancer.
Most moles are generally one color, can be flat or raised, and generally don’t change size or shape over time. Some unusual growths however, may be symptoms of melanoma – the rarest form of skin cancer but still the majority cause of skin cancer deaths. Melanoma can develop anywhere on your body, even areas that aren’t regularly exposed to the sun. For men, they most commonly occur on the face or abdomen. For women, it’s often developed on the lower legs.
Signs of melanoma can include:
If any of these symptoms sound familiar, get in touch with a trusted dermatologist. If you’re in the Long Beach area, contact Dr. Robert Miller to schedule an appointment.
Basal Cell Carcinmoa
The most frequently occurring type of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma, or BCC is believed to be caused by long-term exposure to UV rays. It often appears on sun-exposed areas of your body, face, and neck. A number of risk factors can increase the likelihood of developing BCC, such as having fair skin or skin that burns easily. The risk of developing BCC also increases with age.
Signs of basal cell carcinoma can include:
Basal cell carcinoma can also appear as open sores or even as noncancerous skin conditions such as psoriasis or eczema. If you notice any of these warning signs that don’t seem to heal, contact a dermatologist to receive a thorough diagnosis and begin discussing next-steps.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
This type of skin cancer is also the result of prolonged exposure to UV rays and is the second most common form of skin cancer. Squamous cell carcinoma, or SCC, often appear on the head, neck, ears, lips, arms, legs, and hands. There are many factors that put you at a greater risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma, such as having preexisting inflammatory skin conditions or fair skin. The chances of developing SCC also increase with age.
Signs of squamous cell carcinoma can include:
SCC can also appear on already existing scars, which makes regular self-examinations all the more important since these areas are easily overlooked. You’ll know it’s time to see a dermatologist when you notice a sore, scab, or growth that just won’t seem to heal or go away.
While this article covers the most common signs of skin cancer, symptoms are likely to vary depending on a variety of factors including age, sex, skin type, and UV exposure. It’s important to meet with a dermatologist at the first sign of abnormal discoloration or growth to address the potential problem and begin treatment, if necessary. Consult a dermatologist like Dr. Robert Miller of Long Beach, CA for a full examination to begin creating a treatment plan that will work best for you. To make an appointment click here.