Skin Cancer

Symptoms

Early Detection is Important

When skin cancer is found early, it is more likely to be treated successfully. Therefore, it is important to know how to recognize the signs of skin cancer in order to improve the chances of early diagnosis.

Most non-melanoma skin cancers (basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma) can be cured if found and treated early.

Skin Changes

A change on the skin is the most common sign of skin cancer. This may be a new growth, a sore that doesn't heal, or a change in an old growth. Not all skin cancers look the same. Sometimes skin cancer is painful, but usually it is not.

Checking your skin for new growths or other changes is a good idea. Keep in mind that changes are not a sure sign of skin cancer. Still, you should report any changes to your health care provider right away. You may need to see a dermatologist, a doctor who has special training in the diagnosis and treatment of skin problems.

A Mole That is Bleeding

Also see a doctor if a mole is bleeding or if more moles appear around the first one. Most of the time, these signs are not cancer. Sometimes, it is not even a mole. Still, it is important to check with a doctor so that any problems can be diagnosed and treated as early as possible. Don't ignore your symptoms because you think they are not important or because you believe they are normal for your age.

Signs of Melanoma

Melanoma skin cancer is more difficult to treat, so it is important to check for signs and seek treatment as soon as possible. Use the following ABCDE rule to remember the symptoms of melanoma. See a doctor if you have a mole, birthmark, or other pigmented area of skin with

A = Asymmetry. One half of the mole looks different than the other half. (top left image)
B = Border. The edges are often ragged, notched, or blurred in outline. The pigment may spread into the surrounding skin. (top right image)
C = Color. The mole is more than one color. Shades of black, brown, and tan may be present. Areas of white, gray, red, pink, or blue may also be seen.(bottom left image)
D = Diameter.There is a change in size, usually an increase. Melanomas can be tiny, but most are larger than the size of a pea (larger than 6 millimeters or about 1/4 inch). (bottom right image)
E = Evolving. The mole has changed over the past few weeks or months.