Skin Self-Examination – What Does Skin Cancer Look Like?
Skin cancer is a common form of cancer which can usually be successfully treated if caught in an early stage of development. It’s important to detect skin cancer early, because even melanoma, the most difficult form of skin cancer to treat, has a high recovery rate if treated before metastasis. What does skin cancer look like? Only a doctor can tell you if you have skin cancer, but there are some warning signs you can look for to let you know when you need to ask for a doctor’s opinion.
The first symptom of skin cancer is a tumor on the skin. Since these tumors appear on the skin, they are easily detected at an early stage, making rapid treatment a possibility. While it is less known than a breast exam, people can do their part to detect skin cancer early by doing a skin self-examination. Instructions are available on how to do a thorough examination, but the basic idea is that you check your entire skin area for anything unusual. This includes your scalp, between your toes, and every part of your skin.
It is important to be familiar with your body so that you notice any differences. Nevi or moles are extremely common, and the average person has 10 to 40 of them. Even having some dysplastic nevi, irregularly-shaped moles, is common. These are benign growths and they are nothing to worry about. However, you should be familiar with your moles and their appearance. New moles and changes in the appearance, texture, or color of old moles could be a sign of a cancerous tumor developing, and you should consult your doctor if something like this occurs.
Basal cell and squamous skin cancer can appear as a new, strange-looking mole, or as an area resembling a rash or a sore which does not heal normally. The key to detecting these cancers early is to do skin self-examinations, and consult a doctor if there are any such irregularities.
Melanoma has an appearance which may be more striking and obvious. This is a deadlier form of skin cancer, affecting the melanocytes which lay beneath the epidermis. These cells give pigment to your skin, and these are the types of cells which form nevi. If you discover a new dysplastic nevus that was not previously on your body, you should see a doctor. Early detection and early treatment are necessary to prevent the cancer from spreading. A discolored mole, a mole which has increased in size or is surrounded by discolored or broken skin, or an asymmetrical mole may be a cancerous tumor and should be examined by a doctor.