Skin cancer is one of the few types of cancer that develops where it can be seen from the very beginning. By monitoring your skin for changes, you can catch skin cancer early, before it has a chance to spread or metastasize. Here are some symptoms of skin cancer that you can keep an eye out for.
- A skin growth or sore that doesn’t go away. Many times the beginning growth of skin cancer can look like a scratch, sore, or burn. If you are like most people, you often end up with little injuries to your skin and don’t know where they came from. Track these little abnormalities and if they don’t go away, have them checked out, as there’s a good chance it might be skin cancer.
- Changes to existing moles. Many people have freckles and moles all over their bodies, and as we get older, they become more common. Carefully keep track of all of your existing moles and look for changes. The size, shape, or surface of the mole may change, indicating that it may be becoming cancerous.
- Skin surface that loses or bleeds easily. Sometimes, one of the only ways to recognize a patch of skin that may be becoming cancerous is to notice that it doesn’t behave like the rest of your skin. Even if the skin doesn’t appear to be much different than other patches of skin, if it is delicate and bleeds or oozes fluid readily, it may be skin cancer.
- Look for blood vessels or an indentation. You can tell whether a bump or pale patch of your skin is more likely to be cancerous if it has blood vessels moving into it. You may need to look closely, but by stretching the skin or examining it under a magnifying glass you may be able to see blood vessels that feed the cancer, which will not be present in non-cancerous growths.
- Reddish, scaly patches. Reddish and scaly patches on the skin can easily be mistaken for sores from rubbing, especially if they develop where your pants rub the skin, where glasses rest, or where your shoes rub. If these sores persist, there is a good chance that they are not simply rubbing sores but are in fact cancerous.
- Moles that are red or flesh-colored. As a rule, moles are generally darker than the skin around them. This is a good indication of a normal mole. If the mole is red or the same color as the flesh around it, there is a higher probability that it may be skin cancer.
Types of Skin Cancer to Watch For
There are many types of skin cancer and each has a slightly different prognosis and symptoms. Basal cell carcinomas are usually a pale patch of skin or a translucent bump with a waxy appearance. Squamous cell carcinomas often are a rough firm lump. Merkel cell carcinomas usually develop as flesh-colored or red moles that are raised up from the skin and grow quite quickly.
Report Any Irregularities to Your Dermatologist
If you notice any of these irregularities or any other suspicious areas on your skin, schedule an appointment with your dermatologist as soon as possible. It is important to catch skin cancer as early as you can so that it can be identified and removed if necessary.
Make sure that you scan your entire body frequently in order to catch any irregularities as soon as they develop. The symptoms of skin cancer can be quite subtle and hard to spot, especially when they develop in private areas or on the scalp.