Skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer, with nearly 9,500 people getting the diagnosis every day.
Skin cancer often stems from overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun and/or tanning booths, which means that almost anyone can get it. You can also develop skin cancer if you have fair skin, sunburn easily, or have a family history of skin cancer.
Unfortunately, skin cancer doesn’t always announce itself with obvious signs and symptoms.
Some forms of skin cancer are easy to spot, and others are more subtle. The good news is that skin cancer is often easy to treat once caught.
So, our experts at Sanford Dermatology want you and all our patients to be aware of every possible warning sign. Here’s your ultimate guide to spotting the earliest signs of the most common types of skin cancer.
Skin cancer signs to watch for
If skin cancer shows up, it’s usually in the form of skin changes and unusual spots. Skin cancer can develop anywhere, but it will most likely crop up on the areas of your body that get the most sun exposure, like your face, scalp, chest, arms, and legs.
Different types of skin cancer present with different symptoms.
For instance, basal cell carcinoma develops in sun-exposed areas as waxy bumps that repeatedly bleed and scab over, but melanoma (the most severe type of skin cancer) can show up anywhere on the body and usually look like large, brownish spots that are painful and itchy.
Some other common signs of skin cancer you should be on the lookout for include:
- A new or suspicious spot or mark on your skin that doesn’t go away
- Spots that ooze, bleed, get scaly or crusty, or don’t heal
- Lesions that bleed spontaneously
- Moles that are red and/or swell beyond their border
- Moles that grow or change shape or color
- Hard lesions that grow rapidly
- Itchy skin that doesn’t get better
We recommend that everyone regularly perform a full-body self-exam. In addition to checking your sun-exposed areas, you should also examine places that are rarely exposed but are still vulnerable, including your palms, genitals, fingernails, toenails, between your fingers and toes, and the soles of your feet.
Your next steps
If you notice any of the changes we mentioned above, it’s not necessarily a reason to panic, but you should make an appointment with us as soon as possible. Skin cancer can progress very quickly, so it’s essential to have it evaluated by an experienced dermatologist.
The faster we can diagnose your skin changes, the faster you can stop a potentially serious illness.
Treatment varies greatly depending on which type of skin cancer you have and how severe it is. We can address almost every kind of skin cancer with our comprehensive services, including:
- Mohs surgery (reserved for complex or large skin cancer growths)
- Curettage and electrodesiccation with an electric needle
- Freezing with liquid nitrogen (cryosurgery)
- Excisional surgery
Skin cancer that we can’t remove surgically or that has spread may need radiation or chemotherapy. Our compassionate team walks you through your options and next steps so you feel comfortable with your treatment plan.
Whether you’re suspicious of a skin change or simply want more information about your own risk for skin cancer, we’d love to talk with you. Call or click to schedule a consultation at any of our three conveniently located offices serving Greater Sanford, Pittsboro, and Lillington, North Carolina.