Do You Know What The The Early Signs Of Skin Cancer Are?
What Are The Signs of Skin Cancer?
I am sure you have read many web pages covering the many common signs of skin cancer. There are, however, many additional signs you need to be aware of to make sure you are checking yourself adequately enough and noticing any changes.
Despite which skin cancer may be developing, whether its basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma or malignant melanoma, you will be looking for any of the following skin changes -
- Any skin spot, nodule, cut or small ulcerated area that refuses to heal...Ask yourself how long you have had it, and has it grown in size in the last few weeks?
- Do you have any areas, especially on your arms or legs that are scaly, dry or crusty. Or any hard bumps or nodules that are unpigmented and shiny
- A mole that has either just appeared, has suddenly grown larger or has started to hurt, itch or bleed.
- White or red patches inside your mouth, around the inside of your cheeks or on your tongue. These areas do not disappear when rubbed with a swab or scraped with your finger
- Watch for changes along scar tissue or on longstanding ulcers. These areas are occasionally prone to developing squamous cell carcinoma.
- Look at your face, do you have any dry patches of skin on your cheeks, nose, forehead or ears that do not disappear with regular moisturisation? You may have a red area that is dry and scaly, a lump or bump on the tip of your nose or top of your ear. Or a skin lesion that increases in size, develops a small ulcerated inner area or contains two or three different colour pigmentations.
The ABCDE Rule For Detecting The Signs Of Skin Cancer.
These 5 signs of skin cancer were devised in 1985 to help the medical profession establish certain perameters for diagnosing melanoma skin cancer. It is for detecting early signs of skin cancer as once advanced to where it may be ulcerating, it is likely that your GP or dermatologist would be immediate in their diagnoses and would not require the assistance of the ABCDE Rule.
||ASYMMETRY Imagine your mole in two halves and see if both halves are identical. Generally, you should be able to match each half almost as if you were folding it in two.
||BORDER - Sinister moles normally have uneven or jagged edges.
||COLOUR - See if the mole has an uneven colour pigment. More than one shade of colour in the area may suggest a positive melanoma.
||DIAMETER - Commonly, cancerous moles are larger than 6mm in diameter, thats just over half a centimeter. Of course it is possibe to have a large mole that is benign and needs no action.
||EVOLVING/ENLARGING - Has the skin lesion changed in size or shape or is it presenting any additional symptoms such as itching, bleeding or pain. Some melanomas are not affected by the criteria above (nodular melanoma) therefore it is essential to check whether there are changes in any skin growths you have.
||Images courtesy of Cancer Research UK
This is a general list of what you could look for during a regular self examination, however, not all skin growths are signs of skin cancer, so please do not panic every time you come accross something that may fit the criteria. It is
vital that you make an immediate appointment to see your GP or dermatologist for an assessment. They may know straight away, or if not, they can refer you.
How To Do A Self Examination
A good idea is to take regular photographs of your arms, legs, face and back etc every eight weeks or so, so that you can compare them to see any changes in newly appearing lesions or moles.
Any skin growths should be documented by taking a photograph with your finger next to it to compare its size. Using a ruler, note the width and length in millimeters and write it on the back of the photograph.
Use a hand mirror and hold it behind you whilst looking in a larger mirror, this will help you to see behind you. Try and get a partner to look at your back and other areas hard to reach, but educate them so that they can be thorough in their examination.
Don't forget areas such as your heels and soles of your feet. Elbows, underarms, underneath the breasts and around the genitals also must be looked at.
If you have any doubts as to whether a skin lesion may be one of the signs of skin cancer, be reassured that your GP or dermatologist will take your concerns very seriously and will refer you straight away if they suspect melanoma is present.
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