Signs and Symptoms of Skin Cancer
Typically, the form of cancer to strike people than any other is skin cancer. All skin types can develop this but it is predominately found in fair-skinned people. Too much time spent in the sun is the main cause of skin cancer due to the ultraviolet radiation. Avoiding overexposure to the sun and identifying the signs early are the two best ways to prevent skin cancer. The three major causes are environment, heredity, and ultraviolet light damage to the skin. This occurs mostly in children and teenagers. Studies show adults receive half of their lifetime ultraviolet exposure when they are 20 years old.
Our skin is the largest organ of our body. It protects our internal organs from injury, acts as a barrier between those organs and bacteria, and prevents the loss of valuable fluid from our body. It also regulated body temperature and communicates to the brain to allow for temperature, touch, and pain sensations. You can see why it is important to keep our skin healthy and free from any signs or symptoms. The majority of skin cancers are classified as non-melanoma or melanoma.
Non-melanoma will develop on those areas of the body that are the most exposed to the sun. The early signs appear on the body, face, ears, neck, lips, and the backs of our hands is where it would be found. These signs rarely spread to another part of the body.
Signs can be one extreme to the next, either the cancer can be slow growing or grow at a rapid rate.
Melanoma, which is common, begins in the cells that produce the skin pigment or coloring known as melanin. Melanin also protects the deepest layers of the skin from harmful radiation from the sun. Melanoma accounts for a small percentage, but it is far more dangerous and life threatening than non-melanoma. The chances of surviving melanoma skin cancer are better if it is caught in the earliest stage.
The signs include family history of skin cancer, multiple moles, a fair complexion, exposure to coal tar, pitch, creosote, arsenic compounds, and radium, and severe sunburn as a child.
Your body will show early signs of symptoms, and both patients and doctors play an important role in finding signs of skin cancer. If you believe you have signs or have any change on the skin, consult your doctor. Any change can be a sign of skin cancer, like the size and color of a mole, or a growth that is darkly pigmented, or a new growth on the skin. If you have a change in the appearance of any bump or nodule, or if you have oozing, bleeding or scaling of the skin you should contact your doctor. Another sign to look for is if the color of the pigmentation spreads beyond the border of a mole or mark. Another sign would be a change in sensations to your skin, for example, itchiness, tenderness, or pain, it’s time to go to your doctor.
What is important to know is it can be prevented by watching for any of these signs. Avoid the sun for extended periods of time and make sure to practice sun safety. If you fear that you have signs of skin cancer symptoms, avoid the sun altogether between the hours of 10 AM and 4 PM. Try to stay in the shade especially when rays are the strongest. To protect your skin from the sun rays it is helpful to wear a long sleeved shirt.
If you show any of the signs, using sunscreen is important when you are going to be in the sun. Using a sunscreen of SPF 15 or above when outdoors will help you protect your skin from skin cancer. Use sunscreen generously and always reapply if you have been in the water, are heavily perspiring, or have recently toweled off.
For prevention of developing signs wear a hat this will keep your face, ears, and neck shaded and provide some protection. A wide-brimmed hat is the best choice but if you are wearing a baseball cap, remember to protect your ears and neck with sunscreen.
Your eyes also need protection from developing signs. The best protection for the eyes and surrounding skin is to wear sunglasses. Sunglasses with 99-100 percent UV absorption are recommended when you are in the sun.
Protect yourself, and alert your doctor if you think you may be developing any signs of skin cancer.