Skin Cancer: Symptoms and Factors

Most skin cancers develop on skin that has exposure to the sun. Although most skin cancer cases result from excessive exposure to the sun, this condition can appear in locations where you are not exposed to sunlight.

Basal cell and squamous cell cancers are the two major types of skin cancer, while melanoma is the rarest and most dangerous.

If you limit or avoid exposure to UV radiation, you can reduce your risk of skin cancer. Since skin cancer can show up in early stages, checking your skin for suspicious changes is an effective way to detect the condition before it worsens. The earlier you can detect skin cancer, the better your chance of successfully treating it.

Symptoms

Where Skin Cancer Develops?

Most skin cancers develop in areas of the body that are frequently exposed to the sun, especially the scalp, face, lips, ears, neck, chest, arms, and hands. However, they also develop on the legs in women. 

All skin tones are at risk of skin cancer, even darker complexions. Melanoma has a greater tendency to occur in individuals with darker skin types, especially those who do not regularly spend time in the sun, such as the palms and soles of the feet.

Signs and Symptoms of Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Many cases of squamous cell carcinoma occur in areas of your body that expose to the sun, including your face, ears, and hands. Squamous cell carcinoma is more likely to appear in areas not exposed to the sun for those with darker skin.

Melanoma signs and symptoms

The skin where melanoma develops can be found anywhere on the body; these locations may be the normal skin or another mole that turns cancerous. While most melanomas appear on the face or the trunk of affected men, they appear primarily on the arms and legs of both genders. When this type of cancer develops in women, it is more often on the lower legs. Although melanoma may appear on skin that has not expose to the sun, it is more likely to occur on people with dark skin color.

Anyone who has melanoma can be diagnosed, regardless of skin color.

The following are melanoma symptoms:

  • A large brownish spot with darker speckles is visible on the salmon.”
  • A mole that becomes any of a variety of colors, gets bigger, or has the potential to bleed
  • A small lesion that is red, pink, white, blue, or blue-black in color
  • Itches or burns if you scratch the sore.

Some skin cancers have signs and symptoms that are less common.

Kaposi sarcoma. Rarer forms of skin cancer arise in blood vessel tissues and cause skin lesions, red or purple skin, or the inside of the mouth to be filled with a mucus-like substance.

Merkel cell carcinoma. The Merkel cell carcinoma tumor tends to form nodules that appear firm and shiny and can be found on or under the skin and in hair follicles. The most common location for Merkel cell carcinoma is on the head, neck, and trunk.

Sebaceous gland carcinoma. This cancer begins in the skin’s oil glands, which are unique and very aggressive. While they appear hard, painless lumps, most sebaceous gland carcinomas appear on the eyelid where they are commonly mistaken for other eyelid problems.

Risk Factors

Several factors may raise your risk of developing skin cancer, including the following:

Skin tone is fair. Skin cancer can affect everyone, regardless of skin color. Having less pigment (melanin) in your skin, on the other hand, gives less protection from harmful UV rays. If you have blond or red hair, light-colored eyes, and are prone to freckles or sunburn, you have a far higher risk of developing skin cancer than someone with darker skin.

A sunburned history. Adult sunburns are also a danger factor.

Excessive exposure to the sun. Anyone who spends significant time in the sun runs the risk of developing skin cancer, even more so if the skin is not protected by sunscreen or protective clothes. Additionally, tanning, which includes exposure to tanning lamps and beds, puts you at danger. A tan is your skin’s damage response to prolonged exposure to ultraviolet radiation.

Climates that are sunny or at a high elevation. Residents of sunny, warm climates receive more sunlight than residents of cooler climes. Living at a higher elevation, where the sun shines the brightest, exposes you to additional radiation.

Moles. Individuals who have several moles or atypical moles referred to as dysplastic nevi are at an elevated risk of developing skin cancer. These abnormal moles — which appear irregular and are typically larger than normal moles — are more likely to develop into cancer than other types of moles. If you have a family history of atypical moles, monitor them for changes on a regular basis.

Other Factors

Skin lesions that are precancerous. Having actinic keratoses on your skin can raise your risk of acquiring skin cancer. Typically, these precancerous skin growths present as rough, scaly patches ranging in hue from brown to dark pink. They are especially prevalent on the face, head, and hands of fair-skinned individuals with sun-damaged skin.

A history of skin cancer in one’s family. If one of your parents or siblings has had skin cancer, your risk of developing the condition may be enhanced.

A personal experience with skin cancer. If you have had skin cancer in the past, you are at risk of recurrence.

A compromised immune system. Individuals with compromised immune systems are more likely to get skin cancer. This includes individuals living with HIV/AIDS and those on immunosuppressive medication following an organ transplant.

Radiation exposure. Individuals who have received radiation therapy for skin disorders such as eczema or acne may be more likely to develop skin cancer, specifically basal cell carcinoma.

Exposure to specific chemicals. Certain chemicals, such as arsenic, may raise your risk of developing skin cancer.

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