Skin cancer, a disease in which cells lose the ability to grow in normal healthy ways, is a rising concern for many people. Every year, 1.3 million American people are diagnosed with some kind of skin cancer, and almost half of everyone in the country will have had some form of skin cancer by the time they are 65. It seems like a bleak picture, but the good news is that modern medical technology can cure almost every known form of skin cancer as long as it is detected early and given the proper treatment, which means that knowing the first signs of skin cancer and being aware of the symptoms can save millions from this disease.
Skin cancer often takes the form of a sore or a pimple that won’t heal, typically appearing as an abnormal growth on the skin. The first sign of skin cancer is if these sores or growths either appear out of nowhere, or significantly alter their shape. They might also ooze fluid or crust and scab over, and will simply not heal over or reduce in size, regardless of over-the-counter treatment. The growths might change in size or color, marking them as an area for concern, you should tell your doctor anytime that you develop a new growth on the skin, or a mole, sore, or other spot on the skin significantly changes in size or shape. The outward signs of skin cancer usually appear on parts of the body that are most often exposed to the sun, such as the v-shaped area of the chest, the face, the neck, and the upper back. Remember that only a doctor can tell if a skin growth is benign or cancerous.
Something that’s important to know while you’re looking for the first signs of skin cancer is how to do a self-examination and see if there is anything that you need to ask your doctor about. You can give yourself a regular check-over for any new growths or to monitor if one might be changing, to look for sores or moles. In particular, you want to look for signs of melanoma, the most malignant and dangerous forms of cancer. To look for melanoma, you want to look for things like the growth being asymmetrical, where one side has a different shape than the other. When the growth has scalloped or uneven edges or has more than one color is another sign of a possible melanoma, they may be black, have colored specks in them, or be shades of brown. Also, if the size measured edge to edge is bigger than a pencil eraser on a new growth, it could be a melanoma.
Skin cancer can be a frightening thing, however it is almost always extremely treatable and can be cured with a minimum of damage to the body if it is discovered early enough. Doctors and medical associations constantly stress the importance of knowing the first signs of skin cancer and being able to check yourself for melanomas, and now, you can.