The Melanoma Research Foundations says you need to #GetNaked and #CheckYourSkin. With a catchy tagline, National Melanoma Month should be relatively easy to remember when it rolls around every May. Yet, so many people go uneducated about skin cancer symptoms, and what they look like, that the condition is still highly under-diagnosed because people don’t often catch on when there’s a problem. While melanoma is only one form of skin cancer with its own month of recognition, there is a lot to remember as you do get naked and take a good, hard look at your skin. Here’s what you need to know.
What is Skin Cancer?
In the most general terms, skin cancer is when skin cells that have grown and developed in abnormal ways. These cancerous formations are most often related to exposure to the UV rays of the sun.
The Primary Types of Skin Cancer
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, there are three primary types of skin cancer, including:
Melanoma – Melanoma may not be the most common form of skin cancer, but it is considered one of the more dangerous, which is why it has its own month to promote awareness. The cancer most often looks like an oddly shaped mole or dark patch on the skin.
Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) – BCC is the most common form of skin cancer, and it usually shows up as a flesh-toned or pink bump or patch of skin.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) – SCC is the second most commonly diagnosed type of skin cancer. The spots tend to show up as a firm, hard pump, a patch of scales, or abrasion that heals and then reopens.
A few other rarer forms of skin cancer include Merkel cell carcinoma, sebaceous carcinoma, cutaneous t-cell lymphoma, and dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans (DFSP).
10 Skin Cancer Symptoms
Every type of skin cancer can come along with its own telltale indicators that something is wrong. Here are a few symptoms that every individual should be on the lookout for when they do check their skin.
Melanoma Skin Cancer Symptoms
- You have a mole that has changed in size, shape, or color
- You have a dark brown spot on your skin that has several speckles around it
- You find a lesion on your skin that seems to burn or cause pain
- Dark lesions are apparent in places not necessarily exposed to the sun, such as the soles of your feet, on private areas, or in your mouth
BCC Skin Cancer Symptoms
- You find a pearly or waxy bump on your skin, usually in an area exposed to the sun
- You have a lesion on your skin that is brown or flesh-colored and looks almost like a scar or lesion
- You have a sore on your skin that may bleed or bust open but it heals and returns
SCC Skin Cancer Symptoms
- You find a firm, red bump, lump, or nodule on your skin, such as on your ear, forehead, or another area often exposed to the sun
- You have an almost flat lesion that appears to have scales of hardened skin or a crusty feel
- You find a bump or lesion on an area of your body not often exposed to the sun
If You Find Something, PLEASE Make an Appointment with a Dermatologist
If during your skin check you find something out of the ordinary, it is important that you get to a dermatologist for an assessment of what you found. Even though skin cancer is one of the most highly treatable forms of cancer overall, it can lead to major problems and even spread if not treated early. Reach out to us to schedule an appointment.