Skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer, but it’s also one of the easiest to treat. Early diagnosis is crucial for successful treatment, so it’s important to know the warning signs. Routinely checking your skin enables you to identify problems and seek prompt treatment.
Getting to know your skin helps you to spot problems early on.
Knowing what is healthy for your skin makes it easier to notice any changes. Check your skin once a month, including the areas that are usually covered by clothing.
Cancerous moles and lesions can occur anywhere on the body, not just on the skin that is exposed to sunlight. Skin cancer in men occurs most commonly on the back, while in women it often appears on the legs.
New Moles and Growths
A new mole, lesion or growth on the skin can be the first sign of skin cancer. However, the majority of new moles will be completely harmless. Make a note of any new moles and take a photograph, using a ruler or other object to show the size and scale of the growth. Check the growth again a couple of weeks later to see if there are any suspicious changes.
Changes to existing moles should always be checked by a doctor, even if you’ve had the mole for a long time. A mole that gets bigger, changes shape or changes color could be a sign of melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer.
See Also: 6 Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Colon Cancer.
If you have swollen lymph nodes close to the site of a suspicious mole, this is a red flag and needs to be investigated by a doctor or specialist as soon as possible.
Skin Cancer Warning signs
People with lots of moles and those with a family history of skin cancer are more likely to develop melanoma, but anyone can develop skin cancer. An unusual mole is usually the first sign.
Normal moles are symmetrical and have smooth edges. Melanomas have unusual shapes, often asymmetrical and uneven around the edges. Normal moles are also usually one color, while melanomas can have two or more different colors or shades and sometimes unusual colors, including white, red or blue.
Moles that are smaller than the end of a pencil (5mm) are usually harmless. Larger moles should be reported to your doctor so that they can be monitored.
Other warning signs include itching, bleeding, crusting, and pain around the site of a mole or growth. In addition, a dark spot under a nail that gradually spreads should be investigated, as this could be a mole or growth.
In rare cases, melanoma can also affect the eye, and may appear as a dark spot on the iris.
Skin cancer is one of the easiest types of cancer to cure when caught early, so it’s important to check your skin for warning signs regularly. Report any changes and suspicious growths to your doctor as soon as possible to ensure you get the best treatment.