A dermatologist explains the types of skin cancer and signs to look for
Skin cancer affects millions of people each year and, unfortunately, can strike people with any skin type at any age. However, taking specific steps such as monitoring your skin at home and getting routine skin checks by your dermatologist will ensure that if you develop a cancerous lesion, it is caught early when it is easiest to remove and treat. At DSA Dermatology in Plano, Texas, we provide routine skin cancer screenings and effective treatment options for patients who have cancerous lesions. Read on to learn more about the types of skin cancer and signs that may indicate that you have a suspicious spot that should be evaluated.
Types of skin cancer
There are multiple types of skin cancer, but the three following types are the most common:
- Basal cell carcinoma: While this type of skin cancer frequently occurs in people with light skin, it can occur in any skin color. It typically looks like a flesh-colored growth, a pinkish patch of skin, or a pearl-like bump. Early treatment for basal cell carcinoma is necessary because it can grow deep into the skin, causing permanent damage and disfigurement and even penetrating the bones and nerves.
- Squamous cell carcinoma: This kind of skin cancer typically occurs in areas of the skin that are most exposed to the sun, such as the face, arms, chest, neck, and back. It can also grow deep into the skin and tends to look like a scaly patch on the skin, a red bump that is firm, or a wound that doesn’t heal over time. Squamous cell carcinomas can be more aggressive than basal cell carcinomas as they can occasionally metastasize or go to other distant parts of the body.
- Melanoma: The deadliest type of skin cancer because it is most likely to spread to other areas of the body. It can form within a mole that you already have or develop suddenly. The “ABCDE” warning signs to identify melanoma are
- Asymmetry – The melanoma is often asymmetrical, which means the shape isn’t uniform.
- Border – The melanoma often has borders that aren’t well defined or are irregular in shape.
- Color – Melanoma lesions are often more than one color or shade.
- Diameter – Melanoma growths usually are larger than 6mm in diameter.
- Evolution – Melanoma will often change characteristics, such as size, shape, or color.
If you notice any of the ABCDEs, it can help you identify melanoma early on when treatment is most likely to be successful and before cancer has had a chance to spread.
When to call your dermatologist
Being diligent about monitoring your skin for suspicious spots is the best way to ensure that you catch any potentially cancerous lesions early. If you find any spot that matches the criteria mentioned above or a mole that has an uneven color, borders, or is growing over time, it is crucial to call your dermatologist to have it evaluated.