Skin cancer can be found early.
Both doctors and patients play important roles in finding skin cancer.
If you have any of the following symptoms, contact our office right away.
• Any change on your skin, especially in the size or color of a mole, growth, or spot, or a new growth (even if it has no color)
• Scaliness, oozing, bleeding, or change in the appearance of a bump or nodule
• The spread of pigmentation (color) beyond its border, such as dark coloring that spreads past the edge of a mole or mark
• A change in sensation, such as itchiness, tenderness, or pain
There are several types, each named for the skin cell from which they originate. Most skin cancers, however, fall into one of these three groups:
Basal cell carcinoma, the most common form of skin cancer, makes up 80-85% of skin cancer occurrence. Slow growing and highly curable, basal cell is often found on the face, ears, arms and other sun-exposed areas. You may find a flesh-toned to reddish spot that looks like a translucent bump or ulcerated sore. It can also present as a pimple that doesn’t clear, a sore that bleeds, heals and returns or a scar that feels waxy. It can also be a group of slow-growing, shiny pink or red growths that look like sores and may be scaly or bleed.
Squamous cell carcinoma begins in the upper layers of skin (epidermis), but can be fast growing and spread into other organs. The cancer presents itself as a red bump or non-healing sore and can itch and bleed, heal and return. Another sign is a thick scaly patch on the lip. About 10% of reported skin cancer is this type.
Melanoma represents 5% of skin cancers. It is the most serious, aggressive form and can be fatal, so it’s important to catch melanoma early for optimal cure probability. Melanoma symptoms include a red to black patch or bump and may appear as a new spot, an existing mole or a mole that changes shape or color. It may look scaly, ooze or bleed. It can also present as a bruise on the foot that does not heal or a black/brown streak underneath a fingernail or toenail.
Less common types of skin cancer include cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL) and Merkel cell carcinoma.
Precancerous Skin Lesions
Seemingly harmless changes to your skin can become cancerous over time, so be vigilant about getting new or changing spots checked by your doctor. The most well known of these precancerous lesions appear as scaly patches called actinic keratosis (AKs) and are commonly found where skin has been sun-exposed most: the head, neck or hands. Actinic keratosis can develop into squamous cell carcinoma, so don’t put off scheduling your dermatology checkup.