What Are the Symptoms of Skin Cancer?
The symptoms of skin cancer are the easiest symptoms to detect. This is because cancer of the skin usually manifests itself in abnormal skin growths that are in plain sight. Although these may sometimes look like a simple sore or a pimple, when it fails to heal over time, this can immediately alert the patient that something is wrong. Also, most cancerous skin growths often ooze some fluid, bleed, and crust or scab over, which are more telltale signs that it is more than just a simple growth. These, however, are usually painless, which is why some people still fail to report their case, leading to delayed treatments.
If you see a new growth on the skin that looks abnormal or does not seem to heal or go away, these should be reported to a doctor. Although many skin growths such as moles are nothing to worry about, it is still best to seek the advice of a medical professional. When a growth is cancerous, however, you can usually tell over time as they often change in size or color.
Symptoms of the Most Dangerous Type of Skin Cancer
The most dangerous type of skin cancer is malignant melanoma. This usually forms on the trunk or on the legs. Although these don’t get constantly exposed to the sun, these areas usually get rare but very intense exposure to the sun, such as when a person spends an excessive amount of time at the beach without applying skin protection products. However, melanomas can also form from an existing mole or freckle, so it is sometimes difficult to identify as well. Keep in mind that when a freckle-like spot on the skin is multi-colored and combines shades of brown, black, red, white, and blue, then it could be a melanoma, not a freckle, which is just light to dark brown in color. Melanomas also have an irregular or uneven border, while a freckle usually have clear-cut borders.
Diagnosing Skin Cancer
Experienced doctors who are trained in diagnosing skin cancer can often recognize its symptoms with one look. To get an idea of the full extent of the disease, however, a complete examination of the entire skin surface will still be needed. Once some symptoms are spotted, a specialist will do a biopsy to determine whether cancer cells are indeed present in the skin cells. This is the surest way to diagnose whether the disease is present or not and to determine its specific type.
In a biopsy, a doctor will take cells or tissues from your skin and analyze them under a microscope. There are two types of biopsy: excisional and incisional. Excisional, which obtains a wider margin of tissue around the affected area, is more effective in diagnosing malignant melanoma. Incisional biopsy removes only a small sample of the growth. This is more common and can usually identify other forms of the disease.