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Skin Cancer Symptoms

Posted by on July 20, 2011

Skin cancer symptoms usually start with a change in color or appearance of any moles of the skin. Each type of skin cancer has its own distinct symptoms, and each skin cancer also tends to develop in certain areas of the skin. In general, skin cancer can be divided into two categories: Non-melanoma and Melanoma.

Non-melanomas are more common and less dangerous because they tend to grow more slowly and rarely spread to other parts of the body, these include basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma. Symptoms of non-melanoma skin cancer include:

  • A red lump (spot or mole) that is firm
  • A small bump with a smooth, shiny appearance
  • A spot or sore that bleed easily
  • Pearly bump with tiny blood vessels, in a spider-like look
  • Rough and scar-like patch of the skin

On other hand, melanomas are less common but are more dangerous. If left untreated, melanoma can spread from the skin into other part of the body and cause serious illness or even death. Melanoma is responsible for 5% of all skin cancers cases and 75% of all skin cancer deaths each year.

Melanoma is characterized by malignant melanocytes or pigment-producing cells of the skin. This form of skin cancer can occurs anywhere on the body including the head and neck, or other pigmented areas such as eyes or gastrointestinal tract. In men, melanoma more frequently develop on the back and shoulders. While women may be more likely to develop melanoma on their legs.

Symptom of melanoma skin cancer is usually a change in an existing mole or the appearance of a new spot. Here are some features to look for:

  • Asymmetry: a mole that has an irregular shape or two different looking halves.
  • Borders: Irregular, rough, or notched edges.
  • Color: Color varies from one area to another, including shades of tan or black as well as brown, red, blue, and white.
  • Diameter: Moles larger than 6 millimeters in diameter, about the size of a pencil eraser.

In addition to the ABCD rule, other possible symptoms of melanoma in a mole include:

  • Itching
  • Oozing or bleeding
  • Scales

If you notice any changes in existing moles, or develop new spot with abnormal characteristics, it is better to have it checked out by a physician. Only a doctor can tell you if they are symptoms of skin cancer or other conditions.