Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Should I Get This Checked?

There's a lot of information out there about the abcde's of spotting melanoma, and that's a good thing. (If you missed it, there's a good infographic here.) But what about the other forms of skin cancer? Let's end the month with some warning signs of other forms of skin cancer that we don't hear about so often. I was originally going to include some images below, but since these growths present differently in different people and vary quite a bit, I thought it best to stick with descriptions. You can find a large gallery of images from the American Cancer Society here.

Basal Cell Carcinoma - the most common form of skin cancer that develops in the deeper layer of the epidermis

May appear as:
  • a persistent, non-healing sore
  • a reddish patch that may itch or be tender
  • a shiny or pearly bump
  • an elevated or rolled border
  • a scar-like area with a white or waxy appearance

Squamous Cell Carcinoma - the second most common form of skin cancer that develops in the outer layers of the epidermis

May appear as:
  • a rough, crusty patch with an irregular border
  • a circular lesion with a depression in the center
  • can bleed if scratched or bumped
  • wound-like, or wart-like

Actinic Keratosis - not skin cancer, but since they are potentially cancerous down the road, they're often removed

May appear as:
  • red or brown in color
  • thick scaly lesions
  • common on the face, ears, and the backs of hands

So, if you notice something, what should you do?

Bottom line - if it's new, changing, crusting, bleeding or drawing your attention in any way, have it checked out by a dermatologist. 

While these types of skin cancer rarely metastasize, removal is more invasive and can be disfiguring if not caught early.

Sources: www.skincancer.org, www.aad.org

photo credit: I Spy (license)