“Holy Moley” should I be concerned about this spot?!
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer worldwide! Annual skin exams and skin protective measures are extremely important for early detection and prevention, respectively.
When should I be concerned and what should I look out for?
A spot that has changed in color, texture, and/or size should be further evaluated by a dermatologist.
If an imaginary line is drawn through the center of the lesion with one side appearing dramatically different from the other side or if the margins are poorly-defined, the lesion should be further evaluated.
Asymmetry, irregular and ill-defined borders, color variation, and evolution of the lesion are signs to be wary of for melanoma.
Other concerning features include bleeding without prior trauma, crusting, pain and itching.
What are the most common types of skin cancer?
Basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma are more commonly encountered skin cancers and are classically due to prior extensive sun exposure and tanning bed use. Basal cell skin cancers may present as pink “cyst-like” pearly growths that bleed without trauma, slowly growing and do not behave as a typical cyst or acne. Though these lesions do not metastasize they may be locally invasive and evaluation by a dermatologist is strongly recommended for treatment. Crusted rough pink lesions can be a sign of precancerous (actinic keratoses) which can be treated by liquid nitrogen or topical prescription therapy.
What are other growths that may develop overtime?
While looking for normal lesions you may stumble across the following benign growths: seborrheic keratoses (warty, stuck on growths; likened to “barnacles on a ship”), cherry angiomas (cherry red growths) and skin tags (pedunculated soft growths often in areas of friction). Though these lesions may be irritating or cosmetically displeasing, they have no malignant potential.
In addition to full skin examinations by a dermatologist, is important to be comfortable and confident in performing self-skin exams. Don’t be afraid to ask a family member or close friend to take a closer look at more difficult sites. Ask your hairdresser to closely examine your scalp for any growths, poorly healing wounds and scabs. Check your nails for red, black or widening brown streaks. Take a more active role in skin cancer screening and remember—Healthy skin is always in!
To schedule a full skin examination with one of our board-certified dermatologists, you can call our office at (610) 265-1166 or schedule directly online.