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Early Symptoms and Signs of Skin Cancer

21Dec 2022

Early signs and symptoms of skin cancer

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the US with a higher incidence than all other types of cancers combined . It has several types, each having a different prognosis. The most common type of skin cancer occurs in the squamous or basal cell layers of the skin and presents with certain early signs and symptoms. Another type commonly occurs in the area of moles. An early detection of these signs will favour a better prognosis, differentiation and treatment.

What are the Symptoms and Signs of Skin Cancer?

These signs and symptoms are:

Itching of the skin

Differentiable signs and symptoms of skin cancer do not manifest until a later stage, however, mild symptoms in the form of a generalised of localised itching of the skin can be felt by the individual.

Bleeding of the skin

Other than a prolonged itch, you may also notice that your skin begins to bleed more easily and often hurts. A feeling of discomfort may be quite prevalent as your skin becomes fragile and is more prone to cuts and bleeding. You may notice that your skin acquires cuts and bruises as you shave or even itch your skin.

Delayed healing of wounds

Another common symptom of skin cancer is that even simple cuts or small wounds take a longer time to heal. Even if they heal, they have a greater tendency that they come back. 

If you accidentally got a cut while shaving your skin, it must be healed in at most a week’s time. In case this takes longer, it is a sign that something is wrong and you must consult with your doctor.

Changes in the appearance of the skin

Before any frank lesions develop, which are typical of cancers, you may notice certain changes in your skin. These changes will be mild enough and will have only a slight variation from your normal skin morphology making them hard to detect. This is why it is important to note even the mildest of changes you notice in your skin texture or color. 

These changes can be detected with the help of a self – examination of the skin, which is recommended to be performed each month in a well – lit room . You must note each and every part of your skin from your face to your palms, soles, hands, feet, back and the trunk. While you do so, it is not only important to look for any lesions but also you must be familiar with the pattern of moles and marks that are present on your skin. This will help you to differentiate if you notice any new growths or see a change in those existing.

Appearance of new moles

This symptom is classic of melanoma, which typically affects the region of moles. If you have a large number of moles, there is a higher risk of having a melanoma, so, it is important that you perform a regular skin examination and see any newer moles in the light of suspicion.

Changes in the appearance of moles

Another trait of melanoma is that it causes changes in the appearance of pre-existing moles of your body. If you notice any change or increase in size of your moles or a change in color, it is important that you do not ignore this symptom. 

Asymmetry is the most common sign, which is seen as a change in the appearance of the mole, in which one half of the mole does not represent the other. Irregular or blurred borders along with an increase in the size of the diameter are other common symptoms you may notice. If a lesion grows to be as large as 6mm, there is a certain risk of melanoma. 

As it progresses, the changes in the moles will be quite apparent in the form of bleeding or ulcerations or the appearance of peculiar shades like red, pink, white or blue within the area of the mole. Redness, swelling, itchiness, pain and poor healing of these infected moles is what marks melanoma . In some cases, scaling or bumping in the area of moles may also be noted  .

Appearance of lesions

Skin cancer, namely squamous cell and basal cell carcinomas, occur more often on the sun-exposed areas of the skin, like the face, hands, neck and even the head. On the face, it can involve any area like the nose, ears or the lips. Sometimes, they may also develop in scars or sores that have already been present in your body due to their prolonged irritation. Other times, skin cancer can also develop in the genital area. When you look at these areas, you may note the presence of mild lesions, which can be in several forms possessing different appearances and colors.

Following are the types of these lesions:

  • Scar - like formations, which are pale to yellow in color. These lesions are seen to be flat and are firmly adherent to the underlying skin.
  • Reddish patches, which are raised from the surface of the skin and are itchy.
  • Small and raised bumps, which are reddish to pink in color and are shiny or translucent. These bumps often have a pearl - like appearance and have brownish, black and bluish areas within it.
  • Pink lesions with raised edges, having a central lower area having abnormal blood vessels, which may give the resemblance of spokes in a wheel.
  • Presence of open sores, which are either recurring or non-healing in nature. These sores ooze when active and develop crusted areas when they become long - standing.

The above symptoms are seen in case of basal cell carcinoma. In addition to the above, squamous cell carcinoma may present with:

  • Red patches, which may be rough or scaly. These patches also have a tendency to bleed.
  • Wart-like lesions .

You may not observe all these signs, symptoms and lesions quite severely. More often, the lesions will not be apparent at all, so, it is important that you take every sign seriously.

If you want book an appoinment you can also consult with our skin cancer doctor in gurgaon

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Sunny Garg
Dr. Sunny Garg

Best Oncologist in Gurgaon & Cancer Specialist - Oncoexperts

Dr Sunny Garg is a renowned Medical Oncologist in New Delhi with an experience of more than 10 years of treating cancer patients.

He has studied in one of the most reputed educational institutes of India. He has done his MBBS and MD Internal Medicine from Institute of Medical Sciences, Banaras Hindu University. Thereafter, he has undergone training in Medical Oncology (DM Medical Oncology) from Kidwai Memorial Institute of Oncology, Bengaluru. He has worked in leading cancer centers in Delhi, and currently practicing at Manipal Hospital, Dwarka, New Delhi.

Dr Sunny Garg has extensive knowledge and experience in the field of oncology, and has treated all cancer types, in various stages, including hard to treat cases. He is well versed with various modalities for cancer treatment like Chemotherapy, Immunotherapy, Targeted Therapy, Hormonal Therapy and Personalised Cancer Therapy.