Detecting Cancer Early

Knowing the early signs of skin cancer and receiving treatment as soon as possible could potentially save your life. While other diseases are associated with lumps, bumps, pain, or sickness, detecting skin cancer can be a little more complicated. Skin cancer is usually slow-moving, and the warning signs aren't readily apparent if you're not vigilant in checking your body. This article will discuss the different types of skin cancer, the warning signs associated with each, and what you need to do if you think you might see one.

The Difference Between Melanoma and Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer

Melanoma is the most aggressive form of skin cancer; however, it is also the least common. It begins in the melanocytes cells deep within the skin in the hypodermic or subcutaneous tissue. Melanoma is dangerous because it will spread to other areas of the body including vital organs. Non-melanoma skin cancer can take a few forms such as squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma, which are the most common forms of skin cancer. These cancers are found in the upper and middle layers of the skin. Non-melanoma skin cancers are not very likely to spread inside the body, and simple surgeries can treat them. Doctors usually find this type of cancer in parts of the skin that are most often exposed to sunlight and UV rays over time. Now that we’ve discussed both types of skin cancer, here are some of the warning signs to pay attention to:

A Streak Under Your Nail

Many don’t associate a streak under the nail as something serious mostly because it can be attributed to a bruise or a blood blister. However, a dark streak under the nail is one of the first warning signs of melanoma and is especially prevalent among African-Americans. When going in for a checkup, be sure to remove any nail polish so your dermatologist will be able to find any linear streaks.

A Pimple That Won’t Go Away

Pimples are relatively normal and a part of adolescent years. If you notice a pimple that randomly appears and reappears in the exact same spot, often accompanied with tenderness or soreness, consult with a dermatologist right away as this could be a sign of skin cancer.

The “Ugly Duckling” Mole

Many of us have moles on our skin and most of the time they aren't a reason to cause concern. That being said, be on the lookout for what is commonly known as the "ugly duckling" mole. Dermatologists categorize this as a mole that stands out from others you may have. It could be a different shape, different color, or a different texture than your other moles and if you come across one, it’s best to get it checked out. It might be nothing, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Also, keep in mind that even moles you've had forever can develop into skin cancer. If you notice changes in your skin over time, consult with your dermatologist. The most important part of staying healthy is to be vigilant in your efforts to track and manage any changes in your body. Be on the lookout for these warning signs and if they persist for more than four weeks, consult with your doctor. Even if it turns out to be nothing, it's always best to stay on the safe side with your health.

Skin Cancer, Melanoma, Hematology/Oncology (Cancer), Dermatology (Skin)


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