Skin cancer is most simply understood as the uncontrolled reproduction of abnormal skin cells. Some skin cancers will develop rapidly so early detection is the best way to ensure an effective treatment. There are two main types of skin cancer- Melanoma and Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer (NMSC). Being aware of the different signs and symptoms of these two forms of skin cancer will improve your chances of self-detecting a cancerous mole or lesion early and reducing your risk of serious or fatal outcomes.
Follow this guide to understand the different kinds of skin cancer and what to look for in the early stages.
Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)
- Most common type of skin cancer
- Grows slowly and usually stays in one location
- Can be flat or raised
- May be itchy or prone to bleeding
- May appear as a sore that won’t heal
May appear a a dry ulcer or sore
Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)
- Second most common type of skin cancer
- Most often appears on parts of body exposed to sunlight
- Usually caused by long-term or intense exposure to the sun
- Tender or sore lesions that are red, crusty or scaly
- May bleed or form ulcers
- Usually occurs in adulthood
- Can grow on any part of the body, but are most common on the torso in males and on the legs in females
- Can change in shape and color
- Unusual in structure with non-uniform coloring
- May be a new mole or lesion
- May be flat or raised
- Presents as red lesions
- Only appears on skin exposed to sunlight
- Rough and scaly
- Not tender or painful
- Can become cancerous over time
- Dry, wart-like lesions that may present with cracks
- Can appear on any part of the body
- Usually white, pink, yellow or brown
- Harmless but often itchy
- More likely to occur after 40
How to detect Skin Cancer early
The first visible sign of a skin cancer usually presents as a freckle or mole. This spot may be new, or it may be an old freckle or mole that is exhibiting some kind of change in size, shape or color. Skin cancer can appear as a lump or nodule, or an ulcer or lesion. They may bleed easily or turn into sores that won’t heal. As the cancer progresses, it may spread with tumors appearing in other parts of the body. It may also begin to bleed more excessively.
Active prevention measures is the first step to lowering your risk of contracting skin cancer. Remember to always wear sunscreen and protective clothing when you are outdoors. Keep an eye out for visible changes on your skin. If you notice any changes keep a record of what is happening to the mole or lesion in question. Your chances of successful treatment of a skin cancer diminish rapidly the longer detection is delayed. You can keep track of your skin with MoleSafe’s Skin Surveillance Program. Regular appointments will ensure you have the best chances of detecting suspicious moles or lesions that may be cancerous early on.
Learn more about MoleSafe’s Skin Surveillance Program or book an appointment here.