Usually, cancer is quite obvious, leading to tenderness, lumps, sickness, and pain. However, skin cancer can be a bit more difficult to spot. It is usually slow in its growth, and it doesn't have obvious warning signs. Nevertheless, there are some things that you can look out for, telling you whether or not you may need to have a physician check it out. Remember that if you do spot any of the signs described below, it does not mean that you definitely have cancer.
Melanoma and Non-Melanoma:
First, there are two types of skin cancer: melanoma and non-melanoma. The first is the most aggressive and best known, but it is also the rarest. Non-melanoma cancers, like basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma, are far more common. A melanoma starts deep in the skin, whereas non-melanomas start on the top layers. Melanoma is also the most dangerous because it starts so deep, as this means it can metastasize more quickly. Both types of skin cancer can appear anywhere on the body, but are most common on areas that have regular sun exposure.
Skin Cancer Signs and Skin Cancer Symptoms:
The starting point of spotting skin cancer is that you know your own body. This will make it far easier for you to spot new things, or changes in existing things. Usually, you will start to develop a new mole, growth, or spot, or an existing one will change in the way it looks. Normal moles are quite small and have an even color. You also develop most of your moles early in your life, and it should stay exactly the same throughout your life. That is what makes it normal.
The ABCDE of Skin Cancer:
If you believe you have cancer of the skin, you will be referred to a dermatologist, which is a skin specialist. They use what is known as the ABCDE method to classify skin cancers. Knowing the ABCDE that they employ makes it easier for you to determine what things you should look out for as well. In fact, when you do a skin check, you should always refer to the ABCDE.
A – Asymmetrical shape. Usually, a skin cancer will not be symmetrical in shape, with irregular lesions being more common. A benign mole will be reasonably symmetrical in shape.
B – Border. Generally speaking, a non-cancerous mole will present with even, smooth borders. In the cases of cancer, the border is harder to define, with irregular borders.
C – Color. If a mole has multiple colors (tan, brown, black, blue), or if the color is unevenly distributed, this could be a warning sign to be aware of. A benign mole is usually tan or brown, and a single shade.
D – Diameter. A cancerous lesion is likely to have a diameter of 6 millimeters or more, which is approximately as wide as a round pencil.
E – Evolution. Evolution is actually the most important diagnostic factor and this is what could potentially save your life. A healthy mole doesn't change throughout your life, so if it evolves, you should have it checked out.