Many types of skin cancer develop where you can see them. As a result, it is more than likely they can be caught and treated early. One way to ensure you’re doing all you can is to examine your skin regularly. If you see any unusual growths or changes in moles that you’ve had for some time, you need to report it. Following are a few skin cancer symptoms you should watch for.
Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer Symptoms
If you have a sore or growth that doesn’t heal, don’t ignore it. When skin cancer first appears it can look like a nodule, patch or rash. It may also be raised, ooze or bleed easily. As the cancer develops, the shape or size of the mass may change. That usually indicates that the cancer is growing into the deeper layers of the skin. There are a few different kinds to watch for.
1. Basal Cell Carcinoma
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer and may appear as light colored patches of skin or waxy bumps. However, when they develop on the chest they are usually darker scars or flesh-colored lesions. You might see blood vessels appear beneath them. They may also become crusty and ooze or bleed.
2. Basal Cell Nevus Syndrome (Gorlin Syndrome)
Basal Cell Nevus Syndrome is a rare condition that is inherited. It increases your risk of developing other types of cancer as well as tumors that come in other forms. It is formed during puberty and can increase the risk of developing Basal Cell Carcinoma.
3. Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma generally appear as firm, rough lumps on the surface of the neck, head, hands or arms. They can also develop like scaly, red patches. The difference is that they don’t go away and will continue to develop slowly. They can also form in the genital area and in sores and scars elsewhere on the body.
4. Bowen’s Disease
Bowen’s disease is another form of squamous cell carcinoma that spreads outward on the surface of the skin rather than down into the skin. They look like scaly, red patches that are crusty and may be mistaken for fungus, psoriasis or eczema.
5. Actinic Keratosis (Solar Keratosis)
When the skin is exposed to too much sun, actinic keratosis can develop. It usually occurs on the neck, hands or head but can also be found in other places on the body. These are an early warning sign of skin cancer. Most at risk are those with blue or green eyes as well as those with fair skin as well as those with blond or red hair.
6. Seborrheic Keratosis
Seborrheic keratosis means bumpy growths that are brown, black or white may form on your check, face, stomach, back or neck. They can be irritating and measure anywhere from a tiny dot to more than an inch across.
7. Actinic Cheilitis (Farmer’s Lip)
Actinic cheilitis appears on the lower lip. It can be identified by the scaly patches or persistent roughness of the skin. The lip may also swell, you may lose the border between the lip and face or you may lose your prominent lip line.
8. Cutaneous Horns
Funnel-shaped growths that extend from the base of the skin are usually composed of compacted keratin. It can vary in shape and size and can grow to a few millimeters in length. Cutaneous horns most commonly are found in older people that have been exposed to the sun throughout their lives.
Skin Cancer Symptoms Caused by Abnormal Moles
Overtime moles can change and develop into a cancerous form. Those that have become cancerous are usually irregular in shape, are large and have many colors. There are a couple of types you should watch for.
9. Dysplastic Nevi (Atypical Moles)
Dysplastic nevi are usually found where the skin has been exposed to the sun for an extended period of time. They are often 1/4″ or more across and have an irregular shape with fading, notched borders. They usually have a mixture of colors and can be either flat or smooth.
Malignant Melanoma Skin Cancer Symptoms
Melanoma is the most serious and deadly form of skin cancer. Moles that change appearance in color, size or shape and have irregular edges should be checked. Additionally, if they itch, ooze or bleed they should also be checked.
10. Mycosis Fungoides
Mycosis fungoides is a type of T-cell lymphoma. When cancerous they form red, scaly rashes on the skin that might change over time and peel, hurt or itch. This form can show up on areas of the skin that have limited exposure to the sun.
Less Common Skin Cancer Symptoms
11. Kaposi Sarcoma
Kaposi sarcoma is found in people that have weak immune systems due to disease or medications that suppress the immune system. It is very rare and causes red or purple patches on the skin.
12. Sebaceous Gland Carcinoma
Sebaceous gland carcinoma is an uncommon and aggressive cancer that originates in the skin’s oil glands. It usually appears as hard nodules and can be found anywhere but mostly on the eyelid.
13. Merkel Cell Carcinoma
Merkel cell carcinoma usually form as moles that are flesh-colored. They are raised and grow very fast. They are actually small tumors that form as shiny nodules in areas that have been exposed to the sun such as the neck, face and scalp.
Skin Cancer Symptoms to Watch For
The medical community has come up with an easy way to determine when you should be concerned. It is called the ABCDE rule and will help you determine when it’s time to see a doctor.
14. A = Asymmetry
When half of the mole or birthmark doesn’t match the other half, see your doctor.
15. B = Border
When the edges of a mole become ragged, irregular, blurred or notched then it may be time to worry.
16. C = Color
Moles comes in different sizes, shapes and colors. However, when a single mole is not the same color all over then you should get it checked out. That’s especially if it becomes a combination of brown, black, red, blue, pink or white.
17. D = Diameter
When a mole or spot becomes larger than 1/4″ across, although skin cancer can be smaller, then it’s time to see your doctor.
18. E = Evolving
Many people have moles throughout their lives that never change. However, when they change in shape, size or color then it can be a symptom that needs to be taken seriously.
19. Plus One More
If a mole that starts to bleed, become crusty or looks inflamed have it checked out.
Other Skin Cancer Symptoms Warning Signs
20. Lengthy Healing
A sore doesn’t heal within 4 weeks.
21. Spreading Pigment
The pigment from a mole spreads to the surrounding skin.
22. Border of a Different Color
The border beyond a mole becomes red or starts to swell.
There is a change in the sensation of an area such as if you develop tenderness, pain or begin to itch.
24. Changing Surface
The surface of a sore or mole changes such as it bleeds, oozes, is scaly or develops into a lump or bump and doesn’t heal within 4 weeks.
Ulcers develop on the skin with an unknown cause that don’t heal within 4 weeks.
A hard lump or nodule if found beneath the skin.
You get red patches on your skin that may or may not become itchy.
28. Dark Area under the Nails
You notice a dark area under a nail that is getting bigger and wasn’t caused by an injury.
The Bottom Line
You should contact your doctor or a dermatologist immediately if you notice any changes in your skin that you’re worried about. The change may not be the result of skin cancer, but only your doctor can determine the real cause.