Skin cancer is the greatest type of cancer. If you are aware of what to look for, you spot warning signs of skin cancer early. Finding it early, when it is small and has not spread, makes skin cancer much easier to treat. Use this article as a guide, to know the common signs of skin cancer and what to do.

Skin cancer early stages symptoms

Skin cancers can look different. They might appear as a spot or sore, a lump, a red patch or even an itchy, crusty, bleeding patch. The earlier you detect skin cancer, the easier it is to treat. Skin cancers tend to develop most frequently on the skin that is exposed to the sun.

Detecting skin cancer early, it helps to know how your skin normally looks. That is the only way you will notice any changes more easily. You might also want to check your back or any other region you cannot see well. Checking your skin is very important if you are regularly in the sun working or for leisure. If you find any suspicious growth, have it checked by your dermatologist.

If you are at high risk of skin cancer or have ever been cured for some form of the disease, you should acquaint yourself with how skin cancers look. There are two types of skin cancer melanoma and non-melanoma.

Melanoma is an uncommon type of skin cancer that forms in the melanocytes. If you do not find and treat melanoma skin cancer quickly, it can become a problem and even more challenging to treat. These are the cells that generate your pigment known as melanin. However, the majority of skin cancers mean they do not involve the melanocytes. There are different types of non-melanoma skin cancer, namely

  • Nodular basal cell skin cancer
  • Pigmented basal cells skin cancer
  • Morphoeic basal cell carcinoma skin cancer

Nodular basal skin cell cancer: what to look for?

  • Nodular basal cell cancer appears like see-through, translucent, and a patient can often see their blood vessels.
  • Sometimes an individual can see a sore area in the center. It is a slow-growing tumor typically occurring in older individuals, in both men and women.
  • The tumor has the potential to spread to the lymph nodes, but mostly affects the head and the neck region.
  • Some nodules may grow to larger sizes and ulcerate. They can also infiltrate into the adjacent soft tissues and nerves. Larger tumors also have a high tendency to recur after treatment.
  • The tumor may be solitary or many. In children, if it is linked with basal cell nevus syndrome, then many lesions may be observed.
  • Some Nodular of the skin may have pigmented appearance and may resemble melanoma.
  • Most lesions are less than one to two cm, but some may grow to larger sizes of about 10 cm.

Pigmented basal cells skin cancer: what to look for?

  • Pigmented basal cell cancers have dark regions and can appear like warts or sometimes melanoma.
  • The tumor areas can sometimes change color.
  • The lesions also have well-delimited edges.

Morphoeic basal cell carcinoma skin cancer: what to look for?

  • Morphoeic basal cell skin cancer may appear like a sore on the skin that does not heal. If you have an area like this for more than three weeks, it is essential to visit a doctor.
  • This type of skin cancer may appear like a scar or a thickened area of skin that is very slowly getting bigger.
  • Morphoeic can also appear as a yellow-white waxy patch with very ill-defined edges.
  • More advanced lesions show ulceration, crusting, and fibrosis.

What causes skin cancer?

Skin cancer grows when one of the three types of cells make up your skin reproduce irregularly. As the cells develop and divide without stopping, they can spread to other places in your body through your lymphatic system.

General warning signs of skin cancer

Most doctors recommend the use of ABCDE rule to look for common signs of skin cancer. Follow the guideline below.

1. Asymmetry - one part of a mole or birthmark does not match the other.

2. Border -The edges of the patch are irregular, ragged, notched, or blurred.

3. Color -The color of the is patch not the same all over and is inclusive of shades of brown or black, sometimes with spots of pink, red, white, or blue.

4. Diameter - The spot is larger than a quarter inch across about the magnitude of a pencil eraser, even though melanomas can sometimes be smaller than this.

5. Evolving - The mole is changing in size, shape, or color.

Basically, to detect skin cancer check for any change in size, color, shape, or texture of a mole or other skin growth. An open or inflamed skin wound that does not heal might also be a potential sign of skin cancer.

Who is at risk of getting skin cancer?

Both non-melanoma skin cancer and melanoma have many risks causing factors in common. Some factors you can manage whereas others you cannot.

  • If you have a record of sun damage, or you spend most of the time in the sun, then you have high chances for both melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers.
  • Individuals with light skin, eye, and hair have high chances of being affected by skin cancer; the little pigment you have in your skin, the less shielding your cells have against volatile UV rays. Nonmelanoma is uncommon if your skin is dark, but you can still get melanoma.
  • Individuals living in a warm climate, high elevation, are more exposed to higher amounts of UV radiation from the sun, which make the odds of melanoma rise up.
  • Older people are more likely to be affected by skin cancer; as the years go by, humans experience more and more damaging UV rays. Most non-melanomas show up in adults who are fifty or older.
  • If you have a history of melanoma skin cancer, there is a high chance you will develop it again. The same goes for those who their parent or sibling had melanoma.
  • Men are more likely to get non-melanoma skin cancer than women. But, women under fifty are more likely to develop melanoma than men their age.
  • Individuals who are more exposed to toxins, such as working around chemicals such as arsenic and exposure to radiation, can destroy skin cells and increase your chances of getting skin cancer.

How can you detect skin cancer?

Skin cancer detection and treatment

To diagnose skin cancer, a physician can examine your skin to determine whether your skin changes are likely to be skin cancer.

The doctor could also remove any suspicious skin for testing. Skin lab testing can determine whether you have cancer and, if so, what type of skin cancer you have. If the doctor determines you have skin cancer, you may have additional tests to determine the stage of skin cancer.

Additional tests may include imaging examination to inspect the nearby lymph nodes for symptoms of cancer or a process to remove an adjacent lymph node and test it for signs of cancer.

Skin cancer treatment

Skin cancer treatment options and the precancerous skin lesions will vary, dependant on the magnitude, type, depth and where the lesions are located. Small skin cancers limited to the skin may not need treatment beyond an initial skin biopsy that removes the entire growth. Skin cancer treatment options include:

  • Your physician might damage actinic keratoses and some small, early skin cancers by freezing them with liquid nitrogen. The dead tissues slough off when it thaws.
  • Excisional surgery is also a common cancer treatment option. This kind of treatment may be appropriate for any skin cancer. The doctor cuts out the cancerous tissue and a surrounding margin of healthy skin. Wide excision is removing extra normal skin around the tumor.
  • In some cases, the doctor might use Mohs surgery to treat skin cancer. This treatment is for more extensive, recurring or hard to treat skin cancers which are inclusive of both basal and squamous cell carcinomas. It is frequently used in areas where it is essential to conserve as much skin as possible, such as on the nose.
  • When performing Mohs surgery, the doctor removes the skin growth layer, examining each layer under the microscope, until no abnormal cells remain. This treatment allows cancerous cells to be removed without taking an excessive amount of surrounding healthy skin.
  • After removing most of the growths, the doctor scrapes away layers of cancer cells using a device with a circular blade through a process called cryotherapy. An electric needle damages any remaining cancer cells. Liquid nitrogen can also be used to freeze the base and edges of the treated area. These easy, fast procedures may be used to treat basal cell cancers.
  • Radiation therapy may also be an option when cancer cannot completely remove during surgery. Radiation therapy deploys high-powered energy beams, such as x-rays, to kill cancer cells.
  • Chemotherapy may also be used to treat skin cancers that have spread to other parts of the body. In chemotherapy, drugs are used to destroy cancer cells. For cancers limited to the epidermal, creams or lotions containing anti-cancer agents may be applied directly to the skin.

How to prevent skin cancer?

Some of the causes of skin cancer cannot be avoided, but some can be controlled. Below are measures you can take to prevent the occurrence of skin cancer:

  • If you want to minimize your risk of developing skin cancer, doctors say the first step is to decrease your exposure to ultraviolet rays by avoiding direct sunlight and tanning beds. In case you have to be in the sun, avoid the midday sun and, stay in the shade when possible. To add your protection from direct sunlight exposure, you should wear long sleeves, sunscreen, and a wide hat for added protection.
  • Reduce your exposure to the sun, particularly from around ten in the morning to four in the evening. When the sun is strongest. Get a shade if you are outside and put on a wide-brimmed hat, Uong sleeves and pants, and V-blocking sunglasses.
  • If you are planning to be outside for more than twenty minutes apply a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher. Use a sunscreen which is water resistant and protects against UVA and UVB rays. Apply regularly, especially after sweating or getting out of the water.
  • Check other products for SPF numbers, too, not just your sunscreen. The labels on some makeup, clothing (especially hats) and beach accessories, such as tents and umbrellas, include SPF numbers as part of their produce information.
  • Put on sunglasses that protect the eyes from UVA and UVB rays.
  • Don't burn! Sunburns, especially on children, has been linked to an increased risk of developing melanoma later in life.
  • Avoid tanning booths and beds that use intense UV light. The risks are so great that several states prohibit and some countries limit and prohibit the use of tanning beds, especially for teens.
  • Assess your skin for suspicious spots every month and see a dermatologist for skin checks once a year. Also, report any suspicious skin lesions to a doctor.