The skin is the largest organ in the human body and plays an important role in protecting our internal organs from the external environment. However, it is also vulnerable to various health conditions, including skin cancer.
As per American Cancer Society, skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer worldwide, and it can be life-threatening if not detected and treated early. While most people associate skin cancer with an abnormal mole, there are other signs to watch out for.
A Persistent Sore
One of the most common signs of skin cancer is a sore that doesn't heal. If you have a sore that doesn't heal, it may be a sign of basal cell carcinoma. “It is commonly found on the neck or face. It appears as a white or brown waxy mass and is typically found in sun-exposed locations”, says Dr Ashok Vaid, Chairman, Medical Oncology and Hematology, Medanta.
The sore may bleed or ooze, and it may develop a crust or scab that doesn't heal even after a few weeks.
Changes in Skin Colour
Skin cancer can cause changes in the colour of your skin. If you notice any areas of your skin that are darker or lighter than the surrounding skin, it may be a sign of skin cancer. This is especially true if the colour changes are not related to sun exposure or a recent injury.
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Rough, Scaly Patches
Actinic keratosis is a precancerous condition that can develop into squamous cell carcinoma if left untreated. It appears as rough, scaly patches on the skin that are often pink or red. The patches may be itchy or tender, and they may bleed if scratched or rubbed.
A New Growth
If you notice a new growth on your skin, it may be a sign of skin cancer. The growth may be a bump or a nodule, and it may be red, pink, or brown. It may also be shiny or have a waxy texture. If you have a new growth on your skin, it is important to have it checked by a dermatologist.
If a spot on your skin has an irregular border, it may be a sign of skin cancer. According to Dr Smriti Naswa Singh, Consultant Dermatologist and Cosmetic Dermatologist, Fortis Hospital, Mulund (Mumbai), melanoma tends to appear as an abnormally shaped mole or skin growth. It could be flat or elevated, and it could be black, brown, pink, red, blue, or skin-toned. It can also resemble a regular mole.
The spot may be asymmetrical, meaning one half doesn't match the other half. It may also have a scalloped or notched edge.
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Changes in Texture
Skin cancer can cause changes in the texture of your skin. If you notice any areas of your skin that are rough, scaly, or bumpy, it may be a sign of skin cancer. The texture changes may be accompanied by other signs, such as itching or bleeding.
Itching or Pain
Skin cancer can cause itching or pain in the affected area. If you have a spot on your skin that is itchy or painful, it may be a sign of skin cancer. The itching or pain may be mild or severe, and it may be accompanied by other signs, such as bleeding or oozing.
Skin cancer can manifest itself in various ways, not just an abnormal mole. It is important to pay attention to any changes in your skin, such as persistent sores, changes in skin colour, rough, scaly patches, new growths, irregular borders, changes in texture, and itching or pain. If you notice any of these signs, it is crucial to seek medical attention promptly. Early detection and treatment can significantly increase the chances of a full recovery from skin cancer.