Even the same type of skin cancer can look very different from person to person. This makes it hard to look at a picture and tell if you have skin cancer.
The most common and least aggressive form of skin cancer is called basal cell skin cancer. It often looks like a pearly pink bump, but can take on many forms. Luckily most basal cell skin cancers grow slowly and do not spread throughout the body. The second most common skin cancer is squamous cell skin cancer which may develop on its own or from precancerous spots called AKs if left untreated. Squamous cell skin cancers can look like scaly pink bumps, scaly cyst like nodules, or craters. Some forms of squamous cell especially in the head, neck and upper chest can behave aggressively and spread to local lymph nodes and distant sites in the body.
Finally, malignant melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, most commonly appears as an irregularly shaped asymmetrical multicolored brown spot, but can also have a very subtle appearance and even be pink ( i.e. amelanotic melanomas). Melanomas do not only occur on sun exposed skin which is why periodic total body skin cancer screening is advised.
The best way to tell if you have skin cancer is to see a dermatologist. You should see a dermatologist right away if you see anything on your skin that lasts for 2 weeks or longer and is:
- Changing shape
- Bleeding or itching
- Fails to heal without ongoing trauma
These may be signs of skin cancer. Remember: when detected early and treated, skin cancer overall has a high cure rate.
Contact Dr. Heather Roberts for further information.