After being exposed to the ultraviolet rays of the sun over many years, some people develop skin cancer. Here are three different kinds of skin cancer that you could be diagnosed with and some ways to tell if you might have them.
Basal Cell Carcinoma
Most people who have skin cancer tend to have basal cell carcinoma. This kind of cancer presents as a pink patch or pearl-shaped, flesh-colored bumps on the skin. If not treated quickly, it can spread to other parts of the body.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma is another kind of skin cancer to look out for. It can look like bumps on the skin, but it can also take the form of a sore on the skin's surface that opens, heals and then opens again. If you have a sore that seems to return over and over and you haven't injured yourself, it's time to see your physician to find out if you are having this problem. This type will also spread to other body parts if untreated.
Typically, those with squamous cell carcinomas first develop actinic keratosis, which is a collection of pre-cancerous cells. This can be easy to miss, as actinic keratosis doesn't look like a bump, mark or mole. Instead, it seems like an overly dry, scaly patch of skin. If you notice any areas like that on parts of your skin that are often exposed to sunlight, have a doctor investigate so that it doesn't progress to squamous cell carcinoma.
When most people suspect that they have skin cancer, this is the type that they are most afraid of getting. A melanoma is the cause of the vast majority of deaths associated with skin cancer, in spite of only occurring in less than one percent of cases.
How do you know if you might have skin melanoma? If you notice a new, darkly colored spot that resembles a mole, it could indeed be melanoma. More insidiously, sometimes melanoma develops inside a mole so you might not notice it for some time. Therefore, if you have moles on your skin, look for signs that the mole is changing shape or growing larger; there could be a small melanoma there that you just aren't seeing. Have a doctor inspect your moles at checkups just to be sure.
The skin cancer types above can sometimes be taken care of if you notice them early. That's why it's so important to notice new marks on your skin and to take them seriously. Talk more with your doctor to find out what measures you can take to ensure that you are protecting your skin.