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Tips for Spotting Skin Cancer


According to the American Cancer Society, you can see and feel skin cancers long before they become bothersome. Once they have grown large, they will begin to itch, bleed, or hurt. The two types of skin cancer you can detect are basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas.

Although they can occur anywhere on your body, basal cell carcinoma is usually found in areas exposed to the sun, including your face, head, and neck. Basal cell carcinomas can be fragile and may bleed after shaving or after an injury. If you have a sore or cut that won’t heal after a week, ask your doctor to check for skin cancer.

Basal cell carcinomas can also appear as:

  • Flat, firm, pale, or yellow areas, similar to a scar

  • Raised reddish patches that might be itchy

  • Small, pink or red, translucent, shiny, pearly bumps, which might have blue, brown, or black areas

  • Pink growths with raised edges and a lower area in their center, which might contain abnormal blood vessels spreading out like the spokes of a wheel

  • Open sores (which may have oozing or crusted areas) that don’t heal, or that heal and then come back

Squamous cell carcinomas also occur on sun-exposed areas of your body, including your face, ear, neck, lip, and back of your hands. They can develop in scars or skin sores on other parts of the body, and not as often, they can form on the skin of the genital area.

Squamous cell carcinomas can appear as:

  • Rough or scaly red patches, which might crust or bleed

  • Raised growths or lumps, sometimes with a lower area in the center

  • Open sores (which may have oozing or crusted areas) that don’t heal, or that heal and then come back

  • Wart-like growths

While you should monitor your skin for these descriptions of both basal cell and squamous cell cancers, you should also ask your doctor to check your skin and show them areas that concern you.

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