Skin Cancer: What to Look for to Prevent Its Spread

skin cancer

Skin cancer is currently the world’s most common type of cancer, and if one does not know what to look for or have it checked in order to prevent further spread, the condition can become more serious. Freckles, spots, and moles often appear on skin with age, doctors often advise their patients to have them checked. Indeed, most types of moles are not cancerous. One condition known as seborrhic karatosis, has symptoms that include scaly, bumpy, and light brown patches of skin, however, this skin condition is known to be benign. If a mole has the tendency to change frequently, bleed, change size, or color, it could be a cause of concern. Cancerous moles usually change from a light color to a black or blue one. It can also start out as a dark color and turn a lighter tone over time.

There are two known types of skin cancer in which one, melanoma accounts for less than five percent of patients with skin cancer, while the second one, non-melanoma affects the remaining 95 percent. Melanoma is known to be the deadlier one, in fact, it is reported that one American dies each hour from this disease. According to the Skin Care Foundation, if a person has gotten sunburnt more than five times at a given age, his chances of acquiring melanoma doubles. Children and adolescents experiencing sun burn even once are more susceptible.

Non-melanoma, the more common and less fatal form of skin cancer appears in two forms. The more common of these forms, which makes up about 75 percent of the skin cancer population is basal cell carcinoma. Squamous cell carcinoma, which is generally caused by UV overexposure, accounts for the other 20 percent. The NHS advises patients to look for and address the following symptoms in order to prevent further spread of the skin cancer.


Melanoma often begins to appear due to a change in the size, color, or shape and existing mole and can also appear as new mole irregular in shape. Non-cancerous moles are generally round and smooth in shape, no more than six millimeters in diameter and are not painful or itchy. Changes in the size and shape are tell-tale signs of cancer growth, as well as if the mole starts to hurt or itch. Melanomas are generally about a quarter of an inch in diameter, asymmetrical in shape, with each half of the mole having a different shape and color, and are surrounded by a ragged or notched border. Thus it is essential to look for these skin cancer signs early, in order to prevent its spread.


If the skin contains a discolored patch or a lump, which does not go away after about four weeks, it could be a sign of non-melanoma skin cancer. Both types of non-melanoma can itch or cause pain, bleeding or ulcers. Basal cell carcinoma can appear as a small lump which is either red or pink. The lump could also be of a pearly white color, have a waxy appearance, or show up on the skin in the form of a scaly or red patch. Squamous cell carcinoma moles normally appear pink and firm, or like basal cell carcinoma can become red or scaly.

Skin cancer, including melanoma, when one knows what to look for, can be treated very easily. In fact the survival rate for patients who have it detected before it spreads to the lymph nodes is 98 percent. While there are no known permanent cures for skin cancer, cutting the mole off in order to prevent further spread can prove reliable and effective in stemming its spread.

By Bill Ades

The Independent
Fox8 News
Photo by: Christiana Care – Creativecommons Flickr License

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