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Do You Know the Signs of Skin Cancer?

Jun 10, 2020

Skin cancer is, by far, the most common type of cancer. Dermatologists recommend monthly self-exams, where you give your body a thorough once-over to check for anything suspicious. If you know what warning signs to look for, you can spot skin cancer early and begin treatment before it spreads.

Melanoma: Know Your ABCDEs

Melanoma accounts for only 1 percent of all skin cancers diagnosed in the US, but it causes the most skin cancer deaths. Use the ABCDE rule to spot the most common signs of melanoma:

  • A is for Asymmetry – One side of the mole doesn’t match the other.
  • B is for Border – The edges are ragged, blurred, or notched.
  • C is for Color – A single mole has multiple shades of blue or black, sometimes with patches of red, pink, white, or blue.
  • D is for Diameter – Spots larger than 1/4 inch, or about the size of a pencil eraser, cause the most concern.
  • E is for Evolution – The mole changes size, color, or shape over time.

Basal Cell Carcinomas

Basal cell skin cancers, or carcinomas, are more common than melanoma, but they are usually easy to treat. When checking your face, head, neck, chest, and hands as part of your monthly self-exam, watch out for these signs of basal cell carcinoma:

  • Flat, firm, yellow, or pale patches of skin resembling a scar
  • Raised red patches, which may be itchy
  • Small, pearl-like bumps with a red or pink hue, and possibly and some brown, black, or blue areas
  • Pink growths with a raised perimeter and sunken center, possibly with blood vessels spreading out from it
  • Open sores that won’t get better, or they heal and then return

Squamous Cell Carcinomas

As with basal cell cancers, squamous cell carcinomas usually grow on parts of the body that receive the most sun. Here are some signs to watch out for:

  • Rough, scaly red patches of skin that may crust or bleed
  • Raised lumps with a lower area at the center
  • Wart-like growths
  • Open sores that won’t get better, or they heal and then return

Other Concerns

Not all skin cancers fit the classic descriptions. Point out anything unusual to your doctor so you can confirm or rule out any problems. Things worth bringing up include:

  • Any new spots
  • A spot that doesn’t look like the rest
  • Any sores that won’t heal
  • Redness or swelling surrounding a mole
  • Color that spreads from a mole to the surrounding skin
  • Itchiness, pain, or tenderness that doesn’t go away or keeps returning
  • Moles that ooze, bleed, become scaly, or develop a bump

If anything on your skin concerns you, meet with a dermatologist as soon as possible. At Arlington Dermatology in Rolling Meadows, IL, we perform skin cancer screenings and can take biopsies to examine suspicious growths more closely. To schedule an appointment, please contact us online or call (847) 725-0824 today.