In 2018, it was estimated that approximately 1,735,350 new cases of cancer would be diagnosed in the United States. And of all the types out there, skin cancer is far and away the most common kind. But despite its prevalence, you might be likely to refrain from taking preventative measures — or from taking action if something looks amiss. Unfortunately, it’s often easy for us to completely overlook changes in our skin or dismiss them entirely. But if you want to ensure you have access to the most effective cancer treatment options available, it’s essential to catch these changes early and bring your concerns to a cancer specialist. Here are a few subtle signs of skin cancer that are easy to miss.
If you already have moles, it’s vital to watch for any changes in shape, size, or color, as this can potentially be cause for alarm. But developing new moles can also be indicative of an issue. Developing a new freckle or small mole may not be anything to worry about, though you may still want to check with your family physician to see if they’d recommend you be seen by a specialist. However, if your new mole is bigger than six millimeters in size, you should make an appointment at a cancer care center for diagnosis. It could potentially be an early warning sign of melanoma, the most severe kind of skin cancer. It’s much better to be safe than sorry, so make it a point to have any skin changes checked out.
Bumps or Growths
Breast cancer is often accompanied by lumps, but skin cancer can also be characterized by bumpy growths. A blister that disappears after a few days shouldn’t be cause for alarm, of course. A blister that’s over six millimeters in size and that sticks around for a month or two, however, is a different story. Bumps, sores, growths, or pimple-like spots that bleed, won’t heal, or that show up on the neck or face can indicate squamous cell carcinoma or basal cell carcinoma. Although both are less prevalent than melanoma, they need to be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible. They’re easy to mistake for other conditions, so if they persist for any length of time, that’s when you should consider seeking out a professional medical opinion.
If you’re used to having dry skin or have had issues with psoriasis, you might not be worried about a scaly patch on your arm. Someone who’s experienced a bad sunburn may also be likely to overlook a scaly patch due to overall skin peeling. But if moisturizer, topical medications, or aloe don’t seem to clear up the problem, it might be time to take a closer look. A scaly patch that’s larger than six millimeters and sticks around for longer than six weeks should prompt you to make an appointment with your doctor. In many cases, patients who have basal cell carcinoma may have only one skin lesion, meaning that it’s easy to discount this sign. Under normal circumstances, your skin should heal by the time a month has passed, since skin cells renew themselves every 28 days. But if a month and a half has passed and you’re still seeing that scaly patch, you’ll want to contact a professional to receive a diagnosis.
This type of cancer is all too common and can have some scary consequences. The best thing you can do is to protect yourself from sun exposure, reduce your risk factors, and see your doctor regularly and if you suspect something is abnormal. For more information on skin cancer treatment options, please contact us today.