The ABCs of Skin Cancer: Types, Symptoms, and Early Detection

As the days grow longer and the sun shines brighter, it’s crucial to remember the importance of skin health. Skin cancer is one of the most prevalent types of cancer worldwide, with millions of cases diagnosed each year. Here we will teach you what you need to know about skin cancer, including common types, symptoms, risk factors, and most importantly, how early detection can save lives.

Types of Skin Cancer

The most common types of skin cancer are melanoma, basal cell carcinoma (BCC), and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC).

Melanoma: Melanoma is often characterized by changes in existing moles or the sudden appearance of new, irregularly shaped moles. This type of skin cancer has the potential to spread rapidly if not detected early, making it the deadliest form of skin cancer.

Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC): BCC typically appears as a raised, pearly bump or a pinkish patch of skin. It commonly develops on areas frequently exposed to the sun, such as the face and neck. While it tends to grow slowly and is less likely to metastasize than melanoma, early treatment of BCC is essential to prevent damage to surrounding tissues.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC): SCC often presents as a firm, red nodule or a flat sore with a scaly crust. Like BCC, it predominantly affects sun-exposed areas but can also arise from pre-existing conditions like actinic keratosis. While SCC is less aggressive than melanoma, it can still spread if left untreated.

All these forms of skin cancer can be fatal if untreated, so it is especially important to know the symptoms and risk factors and to get regular skin checks.

Skin Cancer Symptoms

Early detection of skin cancer relies on recognizing its warning signs. Keep an eye out for the following:

  • Changes in the size, shape, or color of moles
  • New skin growths or sores that don’t heal
  • Itching, tenderness, or pain in existing skin lesions
  • Bleeding or oozing from skin lesions

Identifying Risk Factors

Certain factors increase an individual’s susceptibility to skin cancer, including:

  • Prolonged sun exposure, especially without adequate protection
  • History of sunburns, particularly during childhood
  • History of tanning (artificial or natural)
  • Fair skin, light-colored eyes, and freckles
  • Family history of skin cancer
  • Weakened immune system

The Importance of Regular Skin Checks

Routine self-examinations and professional skin checks both play a pivotal role in detecting skin cancer at its earliest stages. By familiarizing yourself with your skin’s normal appearance and promptly reporting any changes to your dermatologist, you can guard against skin cancer developing and spreading unnoticed.

At Medovate Dermatology, we offer advanced technologies such as total body photography and mole mapping for highly reliable early detection of skin cancer. Total Body Photography captures high-resolution images of the entire body surface, allowing dermatologists to monitor changes in moles over time. Combined with mole mapping software like DermEngine, which analyzes and tracks suspicious lesions, this approach makes it possible to find, diagnose, and treat skin cancer before it becomes a major threat.

No one wants to think that they could become the next victim of cancer, but the fact remains that skin cancer affects at least 1 in 5 Americans over the course of their lifetime. Schedule regular skin exams with your dermatologist, monitor your skin yourself, and use sun protection to protect your skin and your health.

To schedule an appointment for Total Body Photography and Mole Mapping with DermEngine, call Medovate Dermatology at 847.499.5500.