Posted on: 20 December 2015
If you have noticed an unusual lump and/or discoloration on your skin, it could be harmless or it could be signs of a deeper issue--like cancer. While most people in your situation are not doctors or dermatologists, you can still examine skin changes to see if any defining features warrant a doctor visit. There are a few different skin cancer types, and each has its own identifying characteristics.
Perhaps the most recognized word in the cancer world is "melanoma." It is synonymous with a cancerous growth and a large, unpleasant-looking set of cells. However, most melanomas do not start out as sizable growths. Instead, most of them are small moles, skin tags, or raised freckles. What makes a melanoma dangerous is when your raised freckle, mole or skin tag begins to change color, get bigger, bleed or become asymmetrical in appearance. For example, if you have a mole that is half black and half brown or one that looks more like a flattened and burnt little pancake than a mole, you probably have a melanoma, and you absolutely should see a doctor to have it examined.
Basal Cell Carcinoma
Most basal cell carcinomas of the skin appear rather harmless, but they can spread to the rest of the body rather quickly. They often look like a small patch of ringworm: a red or brown ring on the dermis with a circle of fairly normal skin tone inside. The only difference here is the "blemish" does not go away regardless of whatever skin treatments or anti-fungal medications are used, and it can spread into lymph nodes, the blood stream, and even bodily organs if left alone. If you notice a blemish like this and then notice that it has recently begun to change color or expand its borders, it may be malignant basal cell carcinoma.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma resembles its cousin, basal cell carcinoma, in shape and appearance. However, squamous cell carcinoma builds up a raised, crusty tumor within the red, brown, or black ring. This is where the squamous cells are multiplying. The outer edges of the rest of the carcinoma take on a peeling appearance, and the carcinoma does not clear up or go away. This tumor has to be cut out of the skin not only because it has a higher chance of becoming cancerous than basal cell carcinoma, but also because it is rather unsightly and difficult to stop the oozing and crusting cycle.Share