Skin cancer symptoms may vary depending on the type of skin cancer that an individual has been diagnosed with. There may be a variety of changes in the skin that are indicative of skin carcinoma. It is important for one to keep an eye on these changes and promptly see a doctor when something is not normal.
The three main types of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. All three types have their own set of signs and symptoms, which also helps the doctors distinguish between them.
Also, having a clear understanding of these signs and symptoms of skin cancer can help doctors arrive at a proper diagnosis of the disease and line up an effective treatment.
Though carcinoma of the skin can affect any age group, some people are at a higher risk of getting the disease than others. Individuals who stay in the sun for long hours and are overexposed to ultraviolet rays, those with a fairer skin complexion, those with a history of skin carcinoma, and some medical conditions such as albinism are found to have a higher risk of developing skin cancer.
Here are some common signs of skin cancer that should be paid attention to, and those having these signs and symptoms should promptly see a doctor for a conclusive diagnosis.
Any unusual change in the mole, such as its size, shape, or color, is one of the most important skin cancer symptoms. It is also one of the most common melanoma symptoms. If the mole has irregular borders, has different color variations, or has an asymmetry in its appearance, it needs to be checked by a doctor.
The development of new and changing skin lesions could also be a warning sign of skin cancer. That said, not all skin growths are cancerous.
Sores that are not healing lately could also be one of the common skin cancer symptoms that should not be ignored. These non-healing or persistent sores could be a sign of a specific skin cancer type, such as squamous cell carcinoma.
Again, red-colored or scaly patches are counted as squamous cell carcinoma symptoms and need to be checked immediately.
Itching or pain can also be counted as a common skin cancer symptom, though it may be associated with other skin issues as well.
Another significant symptom of skin cancer can be a change in the already present skin lesions, such as moles.
Ulceration refers to the growth of the skin's open sore and is considered to be one of the major skin carcinoma symptoms.
Elevated bumps or any kind of raised and unusual growth on the skin are also common signs of skin cancer.
The spread of pigment within already present skin lesions or moles can be one of the most significant and concerning melanoma symptoms.
Tenderness is not a major symptom of skin cancer, especially in the early stages. However, some skin cancer types can result in tenderness in their later stages.
Here are the different types of skin cancer and their associated symptoms.
Basal cell carcinoma symptoms include any kind of new growth on the skin, flesh-colored pinkish, shiny bumps that may be similar to a pearl, raised or elevated bumps, ulceration, and a growth similar to wrath on the skin.
Squamous cell carcinoma symptoms include red or pink-colored bumps, which often resemble a sore or a wart, lesions with irregular borders, changes in already existing lesions, and scaly patches.
Melanoma symptoms include changes in the mole, such as its size and color, bleeding ulcerations, non-healing sores, changes in the texture of the mole, and the spread of pigment.
Merkel cell carcinoma symptoms include reddish or blue-colored nodules, enlarged nodules over a short span of time, firm and painless nodules, and ulcerations.
Kaposi sarcoma symptoms include red or purple-colored painless lesions, difficulty swallowing, breathing issues, and gastrointestinal symptoms.
Though it is known that the major reason for skin cancer is mutations in the skin cells, the actual cause of these mutations is not known. Thus, there is no reliable answer to the question, 'what causes skin cancer?' However, there are certain risk factors that increase the chances of skin cancer development.
Overexposure to the sun's ultraviolet rays is known as one of the potential skin cancer causes. Ultraviolet rays are known to damage the DNA of healthy skin cells, increasing the chances of getting carcinoma of the skin.
Tanning beds and lamps also expose the human skin to ultraviolet radiation, thereby increasing the chances of getting skin cancer.
Individuals with fair skin have less melanin pigment, and therefore do not get proper protection from ultraviolet rays. Thus, fair skin is also regarded as one of the possible skin cancer causes.
Possessing moles in large quantities also increases the risk of developing skin cancer, especially melanoma.
Just like any other cancer, a family history of skin carcinoma also increases the risk of getting skin cancer.
A personal history of skin cancer is also a major factor in increasing the chances of developing it.
Individuals with a weak immune system, such as those suffering from HIV/AIDS, are also at risk of getting skin carcinoma.
Overexposure to carcinogens, such as arsenic, coal tar, certain organic solvents, etc., also increases the chances of getting skin cancer.
Exposure to radiation beams through radiation therapy is also among the possible skin cancer causes.
Though skin cancer can occur at any age, people over 50 are at an increased risk of developing it.
Regular visits to the dermatologist, especially if you have any of the risk factors for skin cancer, are effective in the early diagnosis and potential prevention of skin cancer. Also, if you have any suspicious moles or lesions on the skin or any other symptoms of skin cancer, it is necessary to see a doctor.
Skin cancer symptoms and possible causes are integral to an effective diagnosis. This information significantly helps doctors design a proper course of treatment as per every individual's symptoms and signs.