Skin cancer is a very common form of cancer that can be easily detected and diagnosed because it occurs outside of the body. The symptoms of skin cancer are changes that occur in otherwise healthy skin.
Sores that appear and don’t heal moles that change size or shape, and new growths on the skin are all common symptoms. Not all changes in the skin are cancerous, but should be monitored just in case. Any area of skin that is exposed to the sun can develop cancer, so any changes that occur in these parts of the body should be examined for this usually painless disease.
New or Abnormal Growth on the Skin
Any new or unusual growth or cluster of skin cells should be checked for cancer. Often these are harmless and the result of minor damage from the sun or even from irritation from the elements. Many benign or noncancerous growths occur during the aging process. Sun spots, skin tags, and liver spots are all naturally occurring skin growths that are harmless.
If a mole or other growth occurs in a place that is inconvenient or embarrassing to a person, a doctor may remove it safely but probably won’t test for cancer unless there is a family history of the disease.
Some growths are obviously alarming and should be examined by a doctor. Sores that develop and do not heal could be cancerous. Pimples that won’t heal or remain infected are also a possible cancer symptom. An area of skin that crusts over, then oozes or bleeds before crusting over again is another example of a growth that could be cancerous. These should be examined by a doctor to determine if cancer is present so that treatment can be made.
Changes in Existing Moles or Freckles
Moles, freckles, or other existing skin growths that suddenly change in appearance or size should be looked at by a doctor to rule out skin cancer. Changes to watch for include change of color, change of shape, and changes in size, particularly if the growth expands. Asymmetrical growths, those with more than one color, uneven edges, and a diameter bigger than that of a pencil are all possible cancer signs, and should be examined by a doctor.
Not all moles are cancerous, and most are harmless. Some develop in adolescence and grow slightly larger and darker with age, but are completely harmless. Others are present from birth and are also not a danger. Any moles or freckles that begin to change or grow suddenly could be a sign that cancer is present.
Sores and Inflamed Areas that Won’t Heal
Sores on the skin that do not heal within two weeks could be symptomatic of skin cancer. These should be examined by a doctor to determine if cancer is present or if there is another reason for the inflammation and sores. Weeping, oozing, and bleeding from the sores can be an indication that the cells in the skin are cancerous. Pimples and other sores that heal within a few days are not likely to be any concern, but if they last more than two weeks it is best to consult with a doctor to rule out cancer.
These symptoms are the most common ones, and they can occur anywhere on the body that is exposed to the sun. The most common locations of skin cancer are the face, chest, neck and upper back. It is important to do self checks for any symptoms that could occur and be seen by a physician if any signs of cancer are present. Skin cancer is usually painless, so a careful examination of any changes in skin growths is usually the only way to detect cancer at an early stage.
Know What to Look for to Stay Healthy
By knowing what symptoms and signs to look for, skin cancer can be detected early on, when it is most treatable. Anyone with a previous history of skin cancer will need to pay special attention to any changes in the skin that might be a recurrence or new cancerous growth. Catching cancer early is the best way to fight it, and early detection starts with regular skin self checks.
Donna Shannon has contributed to several medical blogs and hopes that her knowledge of medical issues can help others find answers to their health related questions and issues. She writes about skin cancer symptoms and their remedies at eHealthMD.