17 Symptoms of Skin Cancer (Basal, Squamous, And Melanoma)

skin cancer symptoms

In this article, we’ll discuss some symptoms of skin cancer.

What Is Skin Cancer?

The irregular development or growth of skin cells is defined as skin cancer. The most common forms of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Melanoma is the most severe form of skin cancer. Early diagnosis is pivotal to proper treatment for any kind of skin cancer.

Symptoms Of Skin Cancer

Skin exposed to UV rays for long-duration usually exhibits symptoms of skin cancer. However, unexposed parts can also display symptoms. These comprise the scalp, lips, genitals, and also under the fingernails. However, there are different indications of different skin cancers.

1. Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal cells substitute old skin cells with new ones. Carcinoma is the condition when basal cells become cancerous, i.e. start growing irregularly. This so happens because of the skin’s prolonged exposure to UV rays. The condition usually shows up as a lesion that does not heal. Following are the different indications of basal cell carcinoma:

1.1. Translucent Bumps

Such outgrowth on the skin can be indicative of basal cell cancer. These bumps can be white or pink, even skin-hued. General observations conclude that these bumps can bleed as well. These bumps normally surface on the face and the ears.

1.2. Lesions

A lesion or wound with dark or black spots is indicative of basal cell carcinoma. These lesions can likewise be blue, brown, or even black. They can also exhibit an elevated and luminous periphery.

1.3. Patches

Flat patches can surface on the back and the chest. Such patches are a common indication of basal cell cancer. The patches have a reddish hue to them. These patches are rough and scabby to touch. A raised periphery is another attribute of such patches. This makes them simple to analyze by both touch and sight.

2. Squamous Cell Carcinoma

The uppermost layer of the skin, epidermis, is composed of flat squamous cells. Even though squamous cell carcinoma is not malignant, it exhibits rapid and aggressive growth. Without appropriate and timely treatment, it can spread to other parts of the body. For the most part, SCC originates from areas like the feet, lips, and genitals. Other symptoms indicative of squamous cell cancer are as follows:

2.1. Lesions That Do Not Heal

Such lesions are usually linked to squamous cell carcinoma.

2.2. Patches

Rough, flaky, reddish patches are early manifestations of SCC. These patches develop further over time and mutate into raised bumps. Bleeding and crusting of these bumps are also observed in several cases.

2.3. Changes In Old Body Marks

Any changes in pre-existing marks on the body could indicate SCC. Old bodily marks include birthmarks, moles, and old scars. New growth is seen on these pre-existing marks much of the time.

2.4. Mouth Ulcers

This is another issue demonstrative of squamous cell carcinoma. White patches in the mouth are a symptom of SCC as well. Both the ulcers and patches do not heal even after 7 to 10 days. This characteristic differentiates normal mouth ulcers from cancerous mouth ulcers.

As stated earlier, the timely diagnosis of squamous cell carcinoma is imperative for effective treatment. Without timely treatment, SCC can infect the lymph nodes and bones.

3. Melanoma

This is perhaps the most hazardous form of skin cancer. Melanoma is cancer concerned with pigments called melanocytes. These melanocytes synthesize the amino acid known as melanin. Melanin is what gives the skin its color or ‘tone’. The causes of melanoma are not yet clear. However, prolonged exposure to UV rays is still the predominant reason.

Melanoma can surface anywhere on the body. In rare cases, melanoma can develop inside the body. For example, the insides of the mouth and the nose. Melanoma can present itself either as an abnormal mole or as hidden melanoma.

3.1. Normal Moles

The majority of humans have moles present at birth. However, some of them may appear during the early or late teenage years. In the event any moles appear further in life, i.e. post-teenage, get them checked. Normal moles are usually the size of a pencil eraser and stay that way.

3.2. Abnormal Moles

When it comes to abnormal moles, health agencies have outlined a simple method to diagnose melanoma. This method is known as the ABCDE Method.

  • Asymmetry: The mole or birthmark is irregular in shape. The two fractions of the mole are not even close to similar.
  • Borders: Indented, raised, and unclear borders are characteristic of melanoma.
  • Color: Abnormal moles do not have a uniform color tone. They are identified by different tones of black and brown. The moles may likewise show other colors as well. These colors are generally red, pink, blue, or even white.
  • Diameter: As mentioned earlier, normal moles are approximately equal to a pencil eraser. This measurement roughly equals to a quarter of an inch. In the event of a larger mole, get yourself checked for melanoma. Although sadly, moles smaller than the normal ones can be indicative of melanoma.
  • Evolving: Take note if the mole exhibits any changes over time. These changes could be in the shape, size, or even the color of the mole. The mole can also develop new indications such as bleeding.

Hidden Melanoma

It is a rare form of melanoma, affecting less than 2% of all cancer victims. Hidden Melanoma generally surfaces under the nails. It can also occur in the eye. Although melanoma in the eye can be diagnosed during an eye examination.

Hidden melanomas have also been observed in the GI tracts and mouths of some patients. It is usually difficult to diagnose such melanoma.

Symptoms Of Skin Cancer: Wrapping Up

Skin cancer has various types such as melanoma and SCC. Like the vast majority of other cancers, it is possible to cure skin cancer as well. But, timely diagnosis is crucial for proper treatment. Pay close attention to your skin and consult your doctor if you notice anything strange. It is always a good idea to practice taking preventive measures. These include regular checkups and lower UV ray exposure.