What Are the Symptoms of Skin Cancer?

Skin cancer results from abnormal growth of skin cells and usually develops in areas that are exposed to the sun. However, there are other causes that can also lead to skin cancer. It is the most common cancer in the United States, and it is estimated that one out of the five Americans can develop skin cancer in their lifetime. As researches indicate, more than 3 million Americans are diagnosed with non-melanoma cancer every year, and around 1 million suffer from melanoma cancer.

Symptoms and Warning Signs of Skin Cancer

There are three major types of skin cancer- Basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Let’s know about their symptoms in brief:

  • Basal cell carcinoma: Basal cell carcinoma develops in basal cells, which are responsible for producing new skin cells. It develops more in areas exposed to the sun, such as the neck and head. Basal cell carcinomas often appear as a transparent bump on the skin but can manifest in other ways.    

Common Symptoms of Basal Cell Carcinoma Are :

  1. Transparent skin-colored bump
  2. Brown, black or blue lesion
  3. Flat, scaly patch
  4. White, waxy, scar-like lesion
  • Squamous cell carcinoma: Squamous cell carcinoma develops in the middle and outer layer of skin. These are not fatal but can be quite aggressive. Squamous cell carcinomas result from exposure to UV-rays and can worsen or spread to other parts if left untreated.

Common Symptoms of Squamous Cell Carcinoma Are:

  1. A firm red nodule
  2. A new sore on an old scar or ulcer
  3. A patchy spot on your lip that has become an open sore
  4. A red sore inside your mouth
  5. A flat, scaly sore
  6. A raised patch or red wart-like sore on genitals
  • Melanoma: Melanoma develops in the melanocytes cells that produce melanin. Melanin is responsible for skin pigmentation. Melanoma is a severe skin condition and can also develop in your eyes, nose, or throat. Women are at high risk of developing melanoma. 

The Abcde Rule Is Quite Helpful in Identifying the Warning Signs of Melanoma:

  1. Asymmetry: one half of the mole does not match the other
  2. Border: uneven and blurred edges
  3. Color: shades of black, brown, or tan
  4. Diameter: smaller when detected but grow up to ¼ inch
  5. Evolving: change in the size, shape, and color  

See Also: Melanoma: Types, Causes, and Treatment

Causes of Skin Cancer

Most cancers are caused due to overexposure to ultraviolet light. Unprotected skin can get damaged due to harsh UV rays or tanning beds. Such exposure can damage your skin's DNA. A damaged DNA cannot control skin growth and lead to severe conditions like skin cancer. Here are some of the common factors that make you prone to developing skin cancer.

  • Overexposure to the sun: Spending excessive hours under the sun can lead to skin cancer. The uncovered part of the skin is more at risk of developing cancer. If the skin is not protected by sunscreen, it is directly exposed to UV rays and tanning beds.
  • Fair skin: Melanin is responsible for skin pigmentation. However, it also acts as a shield against UV light. Skin cancer can develop irrespective of skin color. Although, people with light skin tone are more likely to develop skin cancer than people with dark skin.
  • Sunburn history: Persons with sunburn history are at high risk of developing skin cancer. Increased instances of sunburn put your skin at risk. It can damage your skin’s DNA and lead to skin cancer.
  • Radiation exposure: Getting a radiation treatment for skin conditions like eczema and acne may put you at great risk of developing skin cancer.
  • Weak immune system: A weak immune system can crumble to skin cancer easily. A severe medical condition makes you more vulnerable to skin cancers.

Preventing Skin Cancer

Protection against UV light is the first step towards preventing skin cancer. Skin cancer prevention follows a comprehensive approach and can be achieved by following some simple steps:

  • Seek the shade
  • Never use tanning beds or lamps
  • Protect yourself from getting sunburned
  • Cover yourself with cloth
  • Wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen
  • Perform self-examination
  • Protect infants from sunlight
  • See a dermatologist

Treating Skin Cancer

Non-melanoma cancers can be treated with the help of minor surgeries. Radiation therapy is also used to treat skin cancers when cancer is in an area where surgery cannot be performed. Treatment for melanoma can be decided as per the severity of the cancer. If detected early, it can be treated using minor surgery.

See Also: Minimally Invasive Surgery and Its Benefits: An Overview


If you are looking for a diagnosis of skin cancer in Anchorage, AK, contact us today. At Far North Surgery, we offer quality cancer treatment in Anchorage and provide you with world-class medical services that can help you recover and heal in no time. Get in touch with us to book an appointment for an early diagnosis.

image

Dr. Madhu Prasad, M.D., FACS

Dr. Madhu Prasad has over 30+ years of experience working as a general surgeon and surgical oncologist and providing the highest level of care in Anchorage, Alaska. He believes in providing quality care to patients and their families. Inspired by compassion and humanism, Dr. Prasad and his team work for the well-being of their patients.

Alaska Cancer Treatment Center

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *