Skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer. Statistics show that about one million people are being diagnosed with this condition each year in the United States alone. The number of people diagnosed with skin cancer exceeds the number for those diagnosed with other common types of cancer such as cancer of the breast and colorectal cancer.
It is good to know, however, that since skin cancer’s symptoms are relatively easier to detect than other types of cancer (thereby bringing about early detection and early treatment), statistics also show that those who are affected by skin cancer have a higher rate of being cured. It has been reported that only a small number of those diagnosed with this ailment would ever die from this disease. That’s why the key here is to be aware of the signs and symptoms of skin cancer, so that treatment could be undertaken as early as possible.
Skin cancer could start in any part of the body, even those parts that are not regularly exposed to sunlight. It has different types, depending on the symptoms and its severity. These types are basal cell carcinoma, which start in the facial area and which is considered to be the least severe of the three; squamous cell carcinoma; and melanoma.
- Basal cell carcinoma usually begins as waxy, shiny bumps on areas such as the neck, shoulders and head (those parts consistently exposed to sunlight). Frequently, the bump would gradually begin to bleed or to become crusty; dilated blood vessels could also be seen within. These are usually confused with a regular skin disease; if you or a loved one display this symptom, it’s best to have it diagnosed right away.
- Squamous cell carcinoma, unlike basal cell, begins as thick, red scaling of a patch of skin; it resembles a skin ulcer or even a very bad, hard rash. This type of skin cancer is more likely to spread than basal cell carcinoma.
- Melanoma is the most severe form of skin cancer. It usually begins on the head, neck or trunk, or on the arms and legs (especially for women). It could also develop from normal skin moles that become malignant. Melanoma can appear as any of the following: a large, brownish spot; an irregular, shiny bump; or bleeding emanating from moles (or any other different appearance that a mole could suddenly take on, such as the mole becoming bigger, having different shades of color, or having ragged edges).
Generally, if you have any of the following symptoms (apart from those listed above), make sure that you get a diagnosis from your skin doctor: the growth of a new mole or a suspicious change in your moles; sores or wounds that don’t heal; or dark lesions or bumps anywhere in your body.
Of course, prevention is always better than looking for the cure. Make sure that you slather on adequate sunblock, especially when you go outdoors (a tablespoon of sunblock for each part of your body is enough), and make sure that you avoid going out from 10 am to 2 pm (when the sunlight is at its fiercest).
To better acquaint yourself with cancer signs and symptoms, search the web for images: helpful sites you could visit include cancer-info-guide.com and skin-cancer-signs.com. You could also visit the Cancer Foundation’s website at skincancer.org for further information on this disease.