Recognizing the Warning Signs of Skin Cancer

Conveniently located to serve Placer County, Sacramento Valley and surrounding areas

dermatologist examines birthmarks on the patient's skin with a dermatoscope

With millions of diagnosed cases annually, skin cancer is the most common type of cancer. There are multiple types of skin cancer with some being much more severe than others and each requiring specific care and treatments. At Placer Dermatology & Skin Care Center in Roseville, CA, we offer advanced skin cancer treatments for basal cell car­ci­no­ma, squa­mous cell car­ci­no­ma, and melanoma.

With any type of skin cancer, early detection is vital for optimal treatment outcomes. Our team is dedicated to empowering patients to recognize the warning signs of skin cancer, so they can make more informed decisions about their health and know when to seek the expertise of a qualified dermatologist.

What Causes Skin Cancer?

The most common cause of skin cancer is overexposure to the sun. The sun emits UV (ultraviolet) rays that can damage the DNA in the skin cells. Mutations in the DNA caused by UV damage can lead to the skin cells growing out of control and forming a cluster of cancer cells. The use of tanning beds, which emit UV rays, is associated with an increased risk of developing skin cancer, as well.

Detecting Signs of Skin Cancer Early

Some warning signs of skin cancer include:

  • New moles, growths, lumps, or spots on the skin
  • Changes to the size, shape, texture, or color of existing moles or growths
  • Scaly patches
  • Persistent sores that do not seem to heal
  • Lesions
  • Waxy patches of skin

The different types of skin cancer have specific features that can be used to potentially identify them. The three most common types of skin cancer are:

Basal cell carcinoma – This is the most common form of skin cancer. Basal cell carcinoma is also the least dangerous with early detection and treatment. It is mostly found in areas that are most frequently exposed to the sun, like the arms, head, and neck. Some of the characteristics can include:

  • A pearly or waxy appearance
  • Rolled or raised borders
  • Crusted areas that ooze
  • Bleeding
  • Ulceration with pigmentation in the center

Squamous cell carcinoma – This type of skin cancer forms in the superficial layers of skin as a direct result of extensive sun exposure. While often not dangerous, if untreated it can lead to serious risk. Some of the characteristics of squamous cell carcinoma include:

  • A rough patch of skin that bleeds
  • Tender and rapidly growing red bumps
  • A sore with a scaly crust

Malig­nant Melanoma – Melanoma is a less common but much more dangerous form of skin cancer. It has a high potential to spread and grow if left untreated. Early detection is key for the successful treatment of melanoma. Melanomas often have a dark brown or black appearance but can also be red, pink, or purple.

For melanoma, there are specific warning signs to look out for known as the ABCDEs of melanoma. They are:

  • Asymmetry – When divided, each side of the lesion has a different appearance.
  • Border – The edges of the melanoma are uneven or irregular.
  • Color – There are a variety of colors in the growth.
  • Diam­e­ter — The growth is larger than a pencil eraser.
  • Evolv­ing — The growth is changing in size, shape, or color along with new symptoms like crusting or itching.

Schedule a Consultation

If you have noticed any concerning patches, growths, lesions, or changes to any existing moles, contact Placer Dermatology & Skin Care Center in Roseville, CA today to schedule a consultation. Dr. Artur Henke is a board-certified dermatologist who specializes in the screening, evaluation, and management of skin cancer.