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Skin Cancer: Understanding the Signs and Symptoms

Did you know that skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States? If you’re concerned about skin cancer, here’s what you need to look out for.

Sun-Damaged Areas

Skin cancer often develops on areas of skin that have been sun-damaged. Even areas of skin that receive more sun exposure than others could be at risk. Starting your self-assessment with the skin that’s exposed on your neck, scalp, face, ears, and chest is typically a good idea. In addition, make a note of any significant sunburns that you’ve had over the years. If you’ve had one or more blistering sunburns, those areas are at a higher risk for developing skin cancer.

Basal Cell Carcinoma Symptoms

Speaking of sun-damaged skin, basal cell carcinoma is one of the types of cancer that is most likely to develop in these areas. This skin cancer can be found on the face and neck most often, though it does appear on other areas as well. One of the most common symptoms of basal cell carcinoma is a waxy or pearly bump that appears on the skin. It can also appear as a flesh-colored or brown scar-like lesion on the skin. These lesions are normally flat, which may make them difficult to spot. Another sign to look out for is a bleeding sore that scabs over, heals, and then returns. If you notice any of these signs of basal cell carcinoma, make sure to contact your doctor immediately.

Melanoma Symptoms

Melanoma is typically what a dermatologist will look for when examining moles during a skin cancer screening. This type of skin cancer can develop anywhere on the body and is most often found on the face for men and on the legs of women. In people with darker skin tones, melanoma typically forms on the palms or soles, or even under the nails. Some key symptoms to look out for with this type of cancer include moles that change in shape, size, or color, moles that bleed, and large brown spots with dark speckles in them. In addition, people with melanoma may notice painful lesions that itch or burn, dark lesions on the hands and feet, or small, irregularly-colored lesions. Any spots that vary in color (red, pink, white, blue, black) from other moles on your body should be inspected by a dermatologist immediately.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma Symptoms

Squamous cell carcinoma, like basal cell carcinoma, is most likely to develop on sun-exposed or sun-damaged areas of skin. Common sites for this skin cancer include the face, ears, and hands. However, squamous cell carcinoma symptoms differ a bit from basal cell carcinoma. This type of skin cancer most often appears as a firm, red nodule or a flat lesion with a crusted-over or scaly surface. Basal and squamous cell carcinoma are two of the most common types of cancer. Mohs micrographic surgery is typically the skin cancer treatment of choice for them, as well.

Knowing the early signs of skin cancer can help you stay proactive and get the right treatment if you need it. If you have questions or want to set up a skin cancer screening, contact SE Dermatology Specialists today.

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