Skin cancer is a type of cancer that affects the skin cells. It is the most common form of cancer in the United States, and its incidence continues to rise. Skin cancer can appear as a variety of different symptoms, ranging from a small, raised bump to a large, scaly patch. While many cases of skin cancer can be cured if detected early, it is essential to recognize the signs and symptoms of skin cancer to ensure timely treatment.
In this blog, we will explore the different symptoms of skin cancer and how to identify them. It's important to note that if you suspect you may have skin cancer, you should consult a medical professional for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.
Causes of Skin Cancer
Here are some of the main causes of skin cancer:
Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation:
This is the most significant risk factor for developing skin cancer. UV radiation from the sun and tanning beds damages skin cells and can lead to the development of cancer.
Certain genetic mutations can increase the risk of developing skin cancer. People with a family history of skin cancer are also at higher risk.
People with fair skin, light eyes, and blonde or red hair are more susceptible to developing skin cancer.
The risk of developing skin cancer increases with age, as the skin becomes less resilient to UV damage over time.
Weakened immune system:
People with weakened immune systems, such as those with HIV/AIDS or those taking immunosuppressant drugs, are more vulnerable to developing skin cancer.
Exposure to certain chemicals:
Exposure to certain chemicals, such as arsenic or coal tar, can increase the risk of developing skin cancer.
It's important to note that many cases of skin cancer are preventable through simple measures such as wearing protective clothing and sunscreen, avoiding tanning beds, and limiting sun exposure during peak hours.
What are the Symptoms of Skin Cancer
- A new mole or growth on the skin
- A mole or growth that changes in size, shape, or color
- A sore that does not heal or continues to bleed
- A spot or sore that becomes itchy, tender, or painful
- A mole or growth that crusts or scabs over
- A mole or growth that appears shiny, waxy, or translucent
- A dark streak under a nail that does not go away
- A patch of skin that feels scaly, flaky, or crusty
- A bump or growth that is firm to the touch
- A mole or growth that spreads beyond its original borders
Early Skin Cancer Symptoms
Here are some of the early symptoms of skin cancer:
Changes in the appearance of moles:
Any changes in the size, shape, color, or texture of an existing mole or the appearance of a new mole should be closely monitored and checked by a dermatologist.
Red or brown scaly spots that appear on the skin, especially those that grow or bleed, should be examined by a dermatologist.
Sores that do not heal:
Any sore on the skin that does not heal within a few weeks should be checked by a dermatologist.
Rough or scaly patches:
Dry, rough, or scaly patches of skin that are raised or have a rough texture, and which do not go away, may be an early sign of skin cancer.
Itchy or painful skin:
Skin that itches or causes pain, especially if it is also discolored or has an unusual texture, should be examined by a dermatologist.
Any unusual growths or lumps on the skin that are increasing in size or that have irregular borders should be checked by a dermatologist.
It's important to note that not all skin cancers present with symptoms, and that some symptoms may be similar to those of other skin conditions. If you notice any changes in your skin, it's important to consult a medical professional for an accurate diagnosis.
How to Prevent Skin Cancer
Here are some ways to prevent skin cancer:
Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, and reapply every two hours or more frequently if swimming or sweating.
Stay in the shade during peak sun hours (usually 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) to reduce your exposure to UV rays.
Wear protective clothing:
Cover your skin with long-sleeved shirts, pants, and hats with wide brims to block UV rays.
Avoid tanning beds:
Tanning beds emit harmful UV radiation and increase the risk of developing skin cancer.
Check your skin:
Regularly examine your skin for any changes, such as new moles, growths, or changes in existing moles. See a dermatologist if you notice anything concerning.
Protect your eyes:
Wear sunglasses that block UV radiation to protect your eyes and the skin around them.
Be mindful of medications:
Some medications, such as antibiotics and acne treatments, can make your skin more sensitive to the sun. Be cautious and take extra precautions if using these medications.
Drink plenty of water to keep your skin healthy and hydrated, and to help your body repair damage caused by UV radiation.
By following these preventative measures, you can greatly reduce your risk of developing skin cancer and protect your skin from harmful UV radiation.
Skin cancer is a common type of cancer caused by exposure to UV radiation, genetics, and other factors. Late-stage symptoms include changes in moles or growths, and sores that do not heal. However, skin cancer can be prevented by applying sunscreen, seeking shade, wearing protective clothing, avoiding tanning beds, checking your skin regularly, and protecting your eyes. By taking these measures, you can reduce your risk of developing skin cancer and protect your skin from harmful UV radiation.
Q: What are the early symptoms of skin cancer?
A: The early symptoms of skin cancer may include a new growth on the skin, changes in the size, shape or color of a mole, or the appearance of a sore that does not heal. It's important to regularly check your skin for any changes and see a dermatologist if you notice any concerning moles or growths.
Q: Can skin cancer be cured?
A: In most cases, skin cancer can be cured if detected and treated early. Treatment options for skin cancer include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.
Q: Does skin cancer spread?
A: If left untreated, skin cancer can spread to other parts of the body, including the lymph nodes, bones, and organs. However, early detection and treatment can prevent skin cancer from spreading. It's important to regularly check your skin for any changes and see a dermatologist if you notice any concerning moles or growths.
What Is Skin Cancer?, By Stacey Feintuch and Stephanie A. Wright, on March 9, 2022
Skin Cancer Symptoms And Images, By The Healthline Editorial Team, on January 11, 2022
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