GentleCure Blog

How to Detect Skin Cancer

mole on back

Do you know how to identify skin cancer? Most of us are aware of the importance of protecting our skin from the sun’s harmful rays, but even the most diligent individuals could be at risk of developing a cancerous spot on their skin. The most important thing is that you detect it early on, but some problematic skin spots can go unnoticed for some time, especially if they’re not in a particularly visible area, such as your scalp or in between your toes. 

Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are the two most common types of skin cancer, but their warning signs are quite different. In this guide, we’ll discuss how to detect skin cancer for both types, as well as how to perform a skin self-exam at home. 

Signs of Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma is not only the most commonly diagnosed type of skin cancer, but it is also the most curable and is not likely to spread. Still, if you suspect that one or more of the following signs of basal cell carcinoma apply to you, you’ll want to see a dermatologist without delay:

  • Flat, firm areas of the skin that are pale or yellow in color and may look similar to a scar
  • Raised patches that are itchy and reddish in color
  • Small bumps that have a shiny, translucent, or pearly appearance and a pink or reddish color (they may also have blue, black, or brown areas)
  • Skin growths that are pink in color with a lowered center and raised edges
  • Open sores that never heal, or heal and come back

Signs of Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Behind Basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma is the second most commonly diagnosed type of skin cancer. Unlike basal cell carcinoma, it does pose the risk of spreading to local lymph nodes if left untreated for too long. Here are the signs of squamous cell carcinoma to look for:

  • Rough or scaly patches that may crust or bleed
  • Raised skin growths or lumps that may have a lowered center
  • Open sores that never heal, or heal and come back
  • Skin growths that resemble warts

How to Perform a Skin Self-Examination

Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma both tend to appear on areas of the skin that are more clearly visible, such as the face, hands, head, and neck. However, it is possible for them to develop in obscure areas, too. As such, it’s important to perform a thorough self-examination of your skin when checking for signs of skin cancer. Here are some tips to follow so you don’t miss any areas:

  1. Examine your skin in a full-body mirror. Check the front of your body and the back of your body in the mirror, then raise your arms up and check the sides of your body from top to bottom.
  2. Check your underarms, forearms, and palms. Bend your elbows and check your underarms, forearms, and palms carefully. Skin cancer may also appear on your nails.
  3. Check your legs, between your toes, and the soles of your feet. Thoroughly check the front and back of your legs, the soles of your feet, and between each of your toes. 
  4. Check your scalp and neck with a hand mirror. Stand in front of a large mirror while holding a hand mirror, using the hand mirror to examine the back of your neck and your entire scalp, parting your hair as you go. 
  5. Get a closer look at your back with a hand mirror. Hold your hand mirror behind your back and turn your head around to look at the mirror, checking for any spots on your back.

Searching for an easier way to track new and existing moles? Check out our recommendations for skin cancer apps that are designed to help. 

Learn More With GentleCure

Do you have additional questions about how to identify skin cancer? Interested in learning more about non-invasive treatment options? The GentleCure blog answers these questions and more, so be sure to check it out frequently for skin cancer information you can trust. Of course, you’re welcome to call us at 855-936-4411 to speak with a skin cancer information specialist anytime, too

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For more information on skin cancer treatment options, speak with a Skin Cancer Information Specialist today.

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