Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the world, and 1 in 5 Americans develops the disease during their lifetime. Skin cancer develops when abnormal cell changes occur in the outer layer of your skin. There are preventive measures you can take to reduce your risk of developing skin cancer, but unfortunately, no one is immune to the disease. Early detection and treatment make all the difference.
At MD Vein Skin Specialists, we can help. Clement Banda, MD, is passionate about keeping your skin healthy while helping you safeguard against potential hazards. Read on to learn the initial signs of skin cancer.
Warning signs to look out for
There are three major types of skin cancer, each with a distinct appearance. These are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma. The main symptom of the disease is a mole or sudden growth on your skin. Skin cancer is curable in its early stages, and you should consider scheduling a diagnosis if you’re experiencing any symptoms.
Here are some changes to watch for:
- Sores that are flat and don’t heal
- Red bumps
- Shiny or translucent bumps
- A pink mole with a dip in the center
- Flesh-colored or brown mole
- Large brown spots
- Moles with irregular borders
- Bumps that are itchy or painful
- A sore that bleeds or oozes
- Growths that are red, white, or blue
The most common symptom of skin cancer is a mole or sudden growth on the skin. Dr. Banda recommends regularly scanning your face and body for these growths. If a mole looks suspicious, schedule an appointment as soon as possible. Dr. Banda may recommend a biopsy once he evaluates the mole.
Types of skin cancer
If you have signs and symptoms of skin cancer, here is how to determine what categories your mole might belong to.
Basal cell carcinoma
Basal cells are found in the lowest layer of your epidermis. These cells constantly form new cells to replace those that wear off your skin’s surface. When your skin is overexposed to the sun or UV radiation, it may develop skin cancer in the basal cells. People with fair skin or hair are most at risk for basal cell carcinoma.
Common symptoms of this type of skin growth may include:
- A raised pink or white bump
- Moles with pearly edges
- A sore that continuously bleeds or reopens
- A flat or scaly scar with a waxy appearance
Basal cell carcinoma can present itself in various ways. It tends to grow slowly and does not spread to other parts of your body. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Banda as soon as possible if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms.
Squamous cell carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma appears as a sore or scaly, inflamed, red patch. It can also develop as a complication of a longstanding skin lesion or ulcers. Frequent sun exposure is often responsible for this second most common form of skin cancer.
Unlike basal cell carcinoma, this type of cancer of the skin spreads from the site of origin and can be potentially dangerous if not diagnosed quickly. Squamous cells are found on the surface of your skin, making it relatively simple to treat. People who have light hair and complexions are most at risk for the disease.
Unlike basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma, melanoma isn’t as common, but it can be deadly because it spreads quickly. Exposure to the sun’s UV rays contributes to its development. Melanoma is not only the deadliest skin cancer but until recently one of the deadliest cancers of all time.
All skin types are at risk for this type of skin cancer, and it can also be hereditary. People with a large number of moles are at high risk for melanoma. You should monitor any pre-existing moles or dark patches for recent changes. The ABCDE rule can help you recognize if a mole or patch needs attention.
When inspecting a mole, you should look for:
- Border irregularity
- Changes in color
- Diameter that is greater than 6mm
- Evolving size or shape
Melanoma is not difficult to detect or cure if diagnosed early, but this type of skin cancer multiplies and can spread to your bones, brain, lymph nodes, or other vital organs.
Risks and prevention
Spending too much time in the sun is the leading cause of skin cancer. UV ray exposure in the form of tanning booths, sunlamps, or X-rays may also contribute to damaging the skin. Men are three times more likely than women to develop skin cancer.
People between the ages of 45 and 54 are most at risk. Wearing sunscreen, seeking shade, and covering your skin with additional clothing or hats may reduce your risk of developing the disease.
Self-examination is not as effective as visiting a dermatologist to monitor skin changes. Dr. Banda specializes in diagnosing adverse skin changes and treating all types of skin cancer. Additionally, for those with lots of moles, a strong family history or prior skin cancer Dr. Banda is likely to recommend artificial intelligence (AI) assisted photographic mapping using the state of the art Fotofinder mole mapping system. If you’re experiencing skin concerns, call our office or book an appointment online.