Skin Cancer Fact Sheet: Early signs, Symptoms And Risk Factors

According to statistics, up to 60% of malignant and cancerous moles are first detected by patients themselves. Early detection, of course, helps in finding the right course of treatment and such patients have better chances of full recovery and regaining their health. That said, early detection may escape the untrained eye, which is why it is important to know exactly what to look out for when it comes to skin cancer.

There are two broad categories of skin cancer; melanoma skin cancer and non-melanoma skin cancer. In the non-melanoma cancer category are several forms of skin cancers, which manifest differently, as highlighted below

1. Basal Cell Carcinoma

This is the most common and most treatable form of skin cancer. The symptoms and early warning signs are evident in areas most exposed to the sun and include the following

· Pinkish growths with raised or elevated and rounded borders.

· A persistent sore that crusts, oozes and bleed for weeks on end.

· Red patch of irritated skin that may crust and itch. Some patients may also have scar-like patches that have no defined boundaries.

· A pearly, shiny and waxy bump.

2. Squamous Cell carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma is usually found on the face, lips ,ears, mouth nose, arms and legs but can form anywhere in the body. Although less common, it spreads faster, and especially where the patient has another disease.

Warning signs include

· Firm and rapid-growing elevated growths with a central depression, resembling a knob.

Persistent sores that crust and bleed.

3. Merkel Cell Carcinoma

It usually starts out on areas exposed to the sun just under the skin and in hair follicles on the face, neck and arms but may occur anywhere.

· Painless, yet rapidly growing nodules that are skin colored or pink, or red, or purple.

· The skin on the node crusts and may bleed

The tumors grow quickly and spread just as quickly to the surrounding tissue.

4. Sebaceous Gland Carcinoma

Sebaceous gland carcinoma is rare, but very aggressive. It arises from the oily or sebaceous glands and may appear anywhere in the body but commonly manifests on the eyelids as hard and firm nodules that are painless.

Sebaceous gland carcinoma is often mistaken for other more common eyelid problems. The tumor is however, very aggressive and local recurrence as well as metastasis to other tissues is not uncommon.

5. Kaposi’s Sarcoma

Kaposi’s sarcoma develops in the blood vessels just beneath the skin, manifesting itself in raised red or purple patches on the skin and in mucous membranes.

A weak immunity due to disease or taking medications that produce the same effect increase the risk for Kaposi’s Sarcoma. Men of Mediterranean heritage are also at a higher risk.

6. Actinic Keratoses

Also known as solar keratosis, Actinic Keratoses manifests as dry textured patched on the skin. Actinic Keratoses is a form of precancer that may advance to squamous cell carcinoma. It is as a result of exposure to UV and more common among older individuals and appearing in sun-exposed sites such as the scalp and face.

Some of these signs and symptoms may appear as a result of other conditions, apart from skin cancer. Should you notice any of these sins, seek professional medical attention.


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