You will most likely have heard about or experienced skin cancer. You may even have somebody around you that is suffering from it. If you have this condition, it means you have abnormal multiplication (oran increase in size) of the cells of the skin. Skin cancer can be melanoma & non-melanoma. Skin cancer like any other form of cancer can be fatal. Non-melanoma skin cancer is the most common type of skin cancer among the Caucasians.
20 Signs and Symptoms of Melanoma and other Skin Cancers
To begin with, there is an ABCDE criterion often used in diagnosing malignant moles (i.e., melanoma). So the first one to five reasons that will be mentioned will be referring to the characteristics of the moles itself, i.e. the cancerous outgrowth itself.
- A signifies Asymmetry: If you draw a line to divide a melanoma into 2, you will discover that the 2 sides are unequal. This occurs in melanoma. Benign skin tumors or outgrowth can be symmetrical when you try to draw a line to divide them into 2.
- B signifies Border: Melanomas usually have uneven borders
- Color: Usually benign skin outgrowths usually have a single brown shade of color, while melanoma usually have more than one color
- D indicates Diameter: Melanoma may have a smaller diameter initially, but as they grow their diameter can become greater (as much as greater than 6mm).
- E indicates Evolving: As months go by, the size of melanoma increases, whereas the size of benign skin outgrowth may never change. It may just be the same over the time.
- Ugly Duckling Concept: Spots on the skin usually grow in a pattern in which they resemble each other. Malignant melanoma does not have this pattern of growth.
- The presence of a lump on your skin: A lump is a mass. A swelling. Presence of a lump does not always indicate that you have cancer. Swelling can be as a result of an inflammatory reaction. It can be as a result of trauma. There are other reasons for a lump to develop on your skin, so don’t be too worried thinking that you have cancer if you lump your skin. Cancerous lumps can only be confirmed when you do a skin biopsy. In carrying out a skin biopsy, the sample will be taken from the lump. This tissue sample will be taken to the laboratory for examination. There it will be confirmed if the lump is a malignant one. So until the examination is conducted on your lump, you cannot say that it is a malignant A malignant lump can also have increased size over a short period. This is because cancers have the character of proliferating fast. So if your swelling is increasing in size day after day, then you should be much concerned and visit a dermatologist as soon as possible.
- Persistent Open Sore: This is a sore that does not resolve after weeks. It can occur in squamous cell carcinoma. Non-healing sores can be due to several conditions which cause decreased capacity of immune cells or decrease in d level of the immune Such conditions include diabetes mellitus, human immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV) use of immunosuppressive drugs, etc. When your immune system or capacity is low, then you can have sores that will not heal soon because there are no enough or quality white blood cells to fight infections that occur in the sore. If you do not have diabetes or having HIV, and also you are not on any immunosuppressive therapy, then it will be the best thing for you to visit a dermatologist soon because it can be a sign of cancer
- Presence of Raised Growth that has Surfaced of Red Color: This can be a pointer to squamous cell carcinoma. Most of the times you will observe that the center of the raised growth has an indentation. If you discover this on your skin, you should not take it lightly. If you suspect that it is an infection, then you can use antibiotics. After using antibiotics if the raised growth is still present and there seems to be no visible change, you can visit a dermatologist because it may mean that the raised growth is not due to infection.
- Enlarged Peripheral Lymph Nodes: Lymph nodes are structures in the body where immune cells are found. They are essential in providing a defense mechanism for the body. One of the features of cancer is lymphadenopathy (enlargement of lymph nodes). It is due to the spread of the cancerous cells to the lymph nodes. Cancer cells can metastasize (spread) to other organs in the body. They can also spread to nearby lymph nodes. So if you have had some patches on your skin and you now have swollen lymph nodes, you should not just treat it with kid glove. It will be good to go and discuss with a dermatologist about it.
- Anemia: It is the reduced oxygen carrying capacity of the blood. You may wonder what this has got to do with you having skin cancer. Cancerous individuals usually have anemia, and this is why having skin patches and at the same time observing that you are becoming pale may be a reason for you to visit a dermatologist. Please note that there are many causes of anemia. In the medical cycle when discussing anemia, the first set of causes for it that will be discussed may not include skin cancer. But having patches on the skin (that does not resolve after application of creams and antibiotics) and at the same time becoming pale may be an indication that you have cancer.
- The occurrence of growths that looks like a wart.
- Unresolving red patches that look like a scale and have irregular or uneven borders
- Weight loss: This occurs in other forms of cancer. Weight loss is a feature of cancer.
- Your mole is becoming tender or painful.
- Itchiness around your mole.
- Recurrence of your sore
- When you are noticing black streaks under your nail
Others can be due to metastasize (spread to other organs). They are
- Abnormality of the gastrointestinal system
- Abnormal function of your pancreas
Skin cancer can be deadly. Be careful not to ignore the signs and symptoms.
- Cold F, Health E, Disease H et al. Slideshow: Precancerous Skin Lesions and Skin Cancer. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/melanoma-skin-cancer/ss/slideshow-skin-lesions-and-cancer. Published 2018. Accessed July 7, 2018.
- Skin cancer – Symptoms and causes. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/skin-cancer/symptoms-causes/syc-20377605. Published 2018. Accessed July 7, 2018.
- AI spots signs of skin cancer. New Scientist. 2017;233(3111):19. doi:10.1016/s0262-4079(17)30215-4