Any noticeable change in your skin can be a little worrisome, and both skin cancer and psoriasis can generate a noticeable difference in the skin’s appearance and texture. The symptoms of both psoriasis and certain types of skin cancer can be similar, but with a little guidance, you may be able to recognize the difference between these two common skin conditions.
Psoriasis is one of the most common skin conditions in the United States, with as many as 8 million people with the condition. A chronic inflammatory issue with the skin, psoriasis can be classified into multiple types. However, the general characterization of the condition will be defined red patches on the skin that seem thicker than everywhere else and may have scaly skin tissue referred to as plaques.
Skin Cancer Explained
While most people do not know it, skin cancer is actually the leading type of cancer in the United States. Roughly 5.4 million cases of either basal or squamous cell skin cancer are diagnosed in the U.S. annually, with basal cell being the more common form. In addition, melanoma, another form of skin cancer, will affect about 100,000 people every year. Medically speaking, all kinds of skin cancer are a type of tumor that forms due to uncontrolled regeneration and multiplication of skin cells. However, each type of skin cancer can have its own appearance and characteristics.
The Similarities Between Psoriasis and Some Forms of Skin Cancer
A few similarities can exist between psoriasis and some forms of skin cancer, which means it can seem hard to diagnose the problem if you don’t quite know what you are looking for. A few of the similarities include:
- Potential changes in the texture or apparent thickness of the skin
- Changes in the color of the skin (redness, for example)
- Possible raised or sunken areas of skin with scaly spots
How to Tell the Difference Between Psoriasis and Skin Cancer
One significant factor to consider with psoriasis and skin cancer is your age. Psoriasis is more likely to affect people who are between the ages of 15 and 35. Even though skin cancer can be diagnosed at any age, it is far more common in older adults than young adults.
Look at where the skin issue is located. Skin cancer most often develops on the body where the sunlight usually hits, such as on the face, arms, upper chest, neck, or legs. Psoriasis is more likely to be found around the joints, such as on your knees or elbows or at the bends of these joints. Psoriasis is also more common on the scalp. Skin cancer on the scalp is not quite so common because the hair protects the scalp from the sun.
A few other noteworthy differences:
- Skin cancer is less likely to itch or bleed than psoriasis unless the tumor has grown quite large
- Skin cancer can take on various colors depending on the type, such as brown, red, or blue; psoriasis is more likely to generate only red or pinkish spots
- Psoriasis can be linked to other health conditions, such as diseases that affect the immune system; skin cancer is more relative to skin type and tone, genetics, and UV exposure
Don’t Take Chances with Your Skin! Schedule an Appointment for Professional Advice
If you have a skin condition that you believe could be either psoriasis or skin cancer, it is best to see a dermatologist right away. Dr. Leslie Storey and all the providers at Valley Skin Institute can do a proper evaluation and give you a reliable diagnosis. Valley Skin Institute can treat you regardless of whether your condition turns out to be psoriasis or a form of skin cancer. Reach out to us today to request an appointment with our skilled Fresno dermatologists.