Skin Cancer

Symptoms

The most common early warning sign of skin cancer is a change on the skin, especially a new growth or a sore that doesn't heal. Skin cancer symptoms don't all look the same. For example, the cancer may start as a small, smooth, shiny, pale, or waxy lump. Or it can appear as a firm red lump. Sometimes, the lump bleeds or develops a crust. Skin cancer can also start as a flat, red spot that is rough, dry, or scaly.

Both basal and squamous cell skin cancers are found mainly on areas of the skin that are exposed to the sun -- the head, face, neck, hands, and arms. However, skin cancer symptoms can occur anywhere.

Actinic keratosis, which appears as rough, red or brown scaly patches on the skin, is known as a precancerous condition because it sometimes develops into squamous cell cancer. Like skin cancer, it usually appears on sun-exposed areas but can be found elsewhere.

Changes in the skin are not sure signs of skin cancer; however, it is important to see a doctor if any symptom lasts longer than 2 weeks. Don't wait for the area to hurt -- skin cancers seldom cause pain.

The cure rate for skin cancer could be 100 percent if all skin cancers were brought to a doctor's attention before they had a chance to spread. Therefore, people should check themselves regularly for new growths or other changes in the skin. Any new, colored growths or any changes in growths that are already present should be reported to the doctor without delay.

Doctors should also look at the skin during routine physical exams. People who have already had skin cancer should be sure to have regular exams so that the doctor can check the skin -- both the treated areas and other places where skin cancer may develop.

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