Skin cancer doesn't always cause dramatic changes. In fact, symptoms can be subtle and easily confused with blemishes or minor skin irritations. The dermatologists at Newton Wellesley Dermatology Association in Wellesley, MA, offer screenings and other services and treatments that help you protect your skin.
Should I worry about that spot or mole?
It's not unusual to experience an occasional pimple or patch of red or dry skin from time to time. Unfortunately, blemishes that don't go away after a few weeks can be signs of basal cell or squamous cell skin cancer.
Basal cell skin cancer is the most common form of skin cancer in the United States, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. Symptoms include rounded, pimple-like bumps; sores that never heal; or brown, black, red, or pink patches of skin.
If you have squamous cell skin cancer, you may also notice red bumps or patches of red, flaky, or crusty skin. Your risk of developing basal cell or squamous cell skin cancer increases due to sun exposure or use of tanning beds. Although neither type of cancer tends to spread, the cancerous cells can invade the deeper layers of the skin if you don't receive prompt diagnosis and treatment.
A change in a mole can be a sign that you have melanoma, a potentially deadly form of skin cancer that can spread throughout your body. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using the "ABCDE" method when evaluating moles. Consider these factors when examining your moles:
- Asymmetry: Do both sides look the same? If one side of the mole doesn't mirror the other half, it's a good idea to contact your Wellesley skin doctor.
- Borders: Rough, irregular, or blurred borders also warrant a call to your dermatologist.
- Color: Healthy moles aren't multi-colored and don't change color.
- Diameter: Moles may be more likely to become cancerous if they're bigger than the eraser at the end of a pencil.
- Evolving: Have you noticed a change in the size, color, or shape of your mole? Does it itch, ooze fluid, or bleed?
Are you concerned about a strange spot or a suspicious mole? Call your dermatologists at Newton Wellesley Dermatology Association in Wellesley, MA, at (781) 237-3500 to schedule an appointment.