What is skin cancer and its symptoms

Cancer builds up if the molecule present in tissue cells responsible of the encoding of genetic information, DNA, turns out to be defective and the human body won’t be able to fix the deterioration. The defective cells start to expand as well as dividing with no control. When this happens within the skin, skin cancer builds up. When the harmful cells increase in numbers, they develop a tumor. Due to the fact that skin cancer typically evolves within the outer layers of skin, the epidermis, the tumor will likely be precisely observable. As a result, the majority of skin cancers is noticeable during the early stages.

Skin cancer is a very serious problem and one of the most common types of cancer. Many people tend to ignore the warning signs when the skin is involved, or at least until it really starts to bother them. However, because the disease can be just as deadly as any other type of cancer, you should be aware of the symptoms of skin cancer so that you can know to seek medical attention.

One of the most obvious skin cancer symptoms is a change in your skin, such as a new mole or a lesion. If this suddenly appears, especially if it changes after a relatively short period of time, you should immediately see your doctor. Skin cancer will generally affect any areas on the body that are exposed to the sun, especially the face but also the hands, neck, arms, scalp, lips, ears and chest. More uncommonly, it could affect the palms of the hands, between the toes, beneath the fingernails or toenails and even the genital area.

Most often, you will notice a brown spot as symptoms, especially a raised mole or bump in the affected area. The mole may have darker speckles over its surface, and any mole that changes in color or becomes larger in size or bleeds should be seen as a possible sign of skin cancer. If you notice such a skin issue, make an appointment to see a dermatologist as soon as possible. You can also consult your primary care physician, though he or she might refer you to a dermatologist or to another facility where you can have a biopsy done of the mole.

List of different types of skin cancer and a brief summary of their symptoms

Specifically, there are several different types of skin cancer. These include melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, sebaceous gland carcinoma, Kaposi’s sarcoma and Merkel cell carcinoma.

Melanoma symptoms

Picture giving an overview of the symptoms and signs of the common skin cancers and also less popular typesMelanoma is probably the most common type of skin cancer and affects the skin by way of a mole. Usually, it affects the area of the head, neck or face in both men and women, but it is also common in the lower legs of women as well. Melanoma can develop as a result of too much exposure to the sun, yet it can also come about without sun exposure as well. Most often, if you are stricken with it, the symptoms will be a mole that suddenly develops and grows larger, or a mole you have had for a long time suddenly changes. Other symptoms can involve a irregularly shaped lesion that looks blue-black, red, whitish or blue.

When melanoma is detected early it has almost a 100 percent cure rate. It is vital to be able to identify the signs of melanoma.

Often the first sign is a change in appearance of an existing mole. The acronym ABCDE can help an individual to know and remember the melanoma signs.

A stands for asymmetrical. Each half of the mole should match. If an irregular shape is noticed it is a cause for concern.

B refers to border. The borders may look ragged or have an indistinct edge.

C stands for color. Melanomas can be red, white, black, or blue in color. If the color of the mole changes it should be checked by a health care professional.

D stands for diameter. Any skin mole that is over ¼ inch in diameter should be checked. However, it is possible for melanomas to be smaller. If a person notices any growth in an existing mole, it should also be checked.

E stands for evolving. Any change noticed in a mole should be checked. Changes can include itching, bleeding, or a change in color.

It is important for a person to know the appearance of the moles on their body. It is suggested that a person’s moles are similar in appearance. One person’s unusual looking mole may be different from another person. Any changes should be examined by a doctor.

Melanomas can also be found in areas of the body that do not have much exposure to the sun. These are often called hidden melanomas. Areas of the body affected can include the palms of the hands, between the toes, and scalp.

One type of hidden melanoma is found under a nail. It is rare and can affect either the hands or the feet. The first sign of this melanoma is usually a brown discoloration that looks like a bruise. It is most often found in persons of darker pigment.

Another type of hidden melanoma is found in the eye. It is called ocular melanoma. It develops in the layer under the white of the eye. This type can affect the vision and can be found during an eye exam.

A person that remembers the ABCDE of melanoma can be on the alert to any changes of their body that could indicate melanoma. If one or more of the signs are noticed, it would be important to make an appointment with a health care professional.

Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma signs

Basal cell carcinoma typically affects people who have experienced too much sun exposure. Affected skin areas may appear in the form of brownish or flesh colored lesions that are flat or a waxy or pearly bump.

As for squamous cell carcinoma, it is a skin cancer that also affects those who have had too much exposure to the sun, especially without the protection of sun block. The symptoms typically appears as a red nodule or a scaly, crusty flat lesion.

Signs of  the less common skin cancers

Sebaceous gland carcinoma is an aggressive type of skin cancer that forms in the skin’s oil glands. The symptoms appears as red nodules that are painless and can develop anywhere.

Kaposi’s sarcoma is the most rare type of skin cancer and usually affects individuals suffering from AIDS or who have weakened immune systems due to certain medications. It shows itself in the form of reddish purple patches on the skin.

Merkel cell carcinoma affects body areas that are generally sun exposed and with symptoms as shiny, firm nodules in the hair follicles or just beneath the skin.

A great misconception is that skin cancer can only afflict individuals of a certain skin tone or those who easily burn. This is not true, and the reality is that, while it most often occurs in people with darker skin complexions, it can affect anyone.

Learn more about the disease with these pictures