Do You Have Skin Cancer?

While you can often identify other forms of cancer from a lump or tumor, skin cancer requires a higher level of attention. Then again, if you know what to look for, you can usually spot skin cancer early and get it treated before it becomes truly dangerous. So what should you be looking for?

Perhaps a better question to start with is: where should you be looking? And the answer to that is: everywhere. Skin cancer can develop anywhere on your skin, which means you’ll want to check every inch of your body just to be safe – from your scalp to your toes. In fact, skin cancer can even develop under a finger or toenail, on a lip, or inside your mouth. If you’re worried about skin cancer, performing a monthly check is a great idea.

Most forms of skin cancer show up first as a mole or as a dark or light spot on the skin. Skin cancer can also appear as a dome-shaped growth, a scaly patch, or a sore that refuses to heal. It’s important to remember that while skin cancer can sometimes cause tenderness or itching, it often appears without any of the usual cancer symptoms. A person with skin cancer may feel perfectly fine, so keeping your eyes peeled is your best bet when it comes to detection.

If you’ve identified a mole or spot on your skin that looks like it could potentially be something more serious, run through the following questions:

  • Is the mole or spot multicolored?
  • Does it look different than other moles or spots on your body?
  • Are the borders uneven or ragged?
  • Is the mole asymmetrical? If you draw a line down its center, will the two sides have different shapes?
  • Is it larger than the eraser on the end of a pencil (6 mm or about ¼ inch)?
  • Has it grown, changed shape or color, or become more raised over time?
  • Is it tender, itchy, crusting, or bleeding?
  • Has it been more than a year since you visited your dermatologist?

While these points are by no means a conclusive checklist, they can be helpful when deciding whether or not to see a dermatologist for any mole or spot you notice. If the answer to any of these questions is “yes” or “I don’t know,” consider making an appointment to find out whether or not you have skin cancer.

The symptoms listed above can help you identify melanoma, which is the most dangerous type of skin cancer. Other forms of skin cancer may manifest in the following symptoms:

  • A red, scaly patch on your back or chest
  • A white lesion that looks like a scar
  • A hard lump with visible blood cells
  • Crusty bumps that resemble warts
  • An open sore that crusts or bleeds
  • A red, dome-like growth

Here’s the bottom line: if you notice anything on your skin that seems new, different, or worrying, get it checked out. And trust your gut. If you spot something that could be skin cancer but doesn’t match any of the usual descriptors, make an appointment anyway. When you play it safe, it’s hard to go wrong.

About Schweiger Dermatology Group

Schweiger Dermatology Group was founded to help make excellent dermatology care accessible throughout the Northeast. In 2010, Dr. Eric Schweiger started the practice with a single location in Midtown Manhattan. When he saw the need for high-quality dermatology care that did not require weeks or months of waiting to see a qualified provider, his vision of a multi-location practice was born.

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