Skin cancer accounts for almost half of all cancers reported. It is the most common type of cancer and it is responsible for tens of thousands of deaths each year. Skin cancers are classified as melanoma or non-melanoma. Non- melanoma cancers are the most common type and they usually occur on the sun-exposed parts of the body. These cancers occur in the cells at the base of the outer skin layer and they can be slow or fast growing.
Melanoma skin cancer begins in the cells that produce pigment or skin coloring and although it accounts for fewer cases of cancer, it is far more deadly than other skin cancers. Melanoma spreads quickly to other parts of the body but if detected early, it is almost always treatable. A large percentage of melanomas are detected at the localized stage, giving the patients good prognosis. Like with other cancers, early detection improves the chances of recovery and survival.
1. Getting skin cancer examination
Regular self-examination and getting examinations from your doctor is very important. By checking your skin thoroughly at least once a month, you can notice if your skin looks different. You should never ignore anything that looks strange. Carry out the self-examination in front of a mirror in a well-lit room and inspect every part of your body including your back, scalp, feet, palms and even the ears. Talk to your doctor if you notice anything that looks suspicious or unusual.
When getting your routine checkup, your doctor should examine your skin and if you have any worries, point them out to the doctor. The doctor will refer you to a specialist if there is anything suspicious looking. If you notice that a friend or loved one has a strange looking mark or “a new mole” on their skin, you should point this out to them and suggest they see a doctor.
2. Symptoms of melanoma
Some of the early signs of melanoma include a change in size or color of an existing mole or birthmark. It is, however, important to note that most normal moles that present as evenly colored tan, brown or black spots are generally harmless. You only need to worry if the mole or mark suddenly starts to look different. Consult your healthcare professional if you notice the change over a couple of weeks.
While melanoma can develop on an existing mark or mole, it also often appears on previously unmarked skin. Other symptoms of the cancer include painful moles, a break or bleeding from the mole, scaly appearance and the moles feeling tender. These symptoms usually occur towards the later stages of the disease.
3. Skin cancer screening
If you have been examining your skin and you are concerned about any moles or marks that have changed in appearance, you need to get screening. A specialist or dermatologist will carry out skin examination and may carry out a biopsy of any suspicious looking growths or marks. It is important to point out any growths, lesions or moles that you might have noticed during your self- examination. To achieve and maintain healthy skin, make sure that you visit an experienced dermatologist.