Skin Cancer

Skin Cancer

1 out of every 5 people will get skin cancer. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the world. If caught early, it is the easiest form of cancer to treat. That doesn’t mean should put it off—if you see something that is changing on your skin, you should have it checked immediately.

Skin Cancer Symptoms

  • A = Asymmetry: Most moles will have fairly regular circular or oval shapes. If you have a mole that is drastically asymmetrical—meaning that if you drew a line across the middle and one side looked different than the other—you should consider getting it checked.
  • B = Border: Normal moles have clearly defined borders where there is a clear, distinct shape. If you see a mole with a border that is irregular or uneven you should get it checked immediately.
  • C = Color: If you have a mole that is changing colors you should have it checked immediately. Cancerous lesions typically get darker. Any change in color is a definite indicator of danger.
  • D = Diameter: If you have a mole that is larger than a pencil eraser (about ¼ in) you should have it checked.
  • E = Evolving: Your moles should not change or evolve in any way. If you have a mole that starts changing in any way, you should have it checked immediately.

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Types of Skin Cancer



Melanoma is the most deadly form of skin cancer. Melanoma can look harmless. The symptoms are often subtle and can go unnoticed. While symptoms go unnoticed, melanoma has the potential to become metastic -- meaning it can spread to other parts of your body. Mestatasizing is the most dangerous aspect of melanoma. It can spread to the liver, lungs, and brain.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)

700,000 Americans are diagnosed with SCC every year. SCCs are not typically fatal. When allowed to grow they can lead to disfigurement and amputation. People who have fair skin and blue, green, or gray eyes are especially susceptible to SCCs.

Symptoms to watch for include scaly, red patches that sometimes crusts or bleeds. Also watch for an elevated growth with a central depression and open sores that bleed or crust without ever getting better. SCCs can sometimes look like warts.

Basil Cell Carcinoma (BCC)

This is the most common form of skin cancer in the world with an annual 2.8 million cases in the United States every year. BCCs are easy to treat in their early stages with a cure rate of close to 100 percent. However, BCCs can damage surrounding tissue and cause disfigurement. While they very rarely metastasize, BCCs continue to grow and will cause large scars.

Basil Cell Carcinoma symptoms include a red, irritated patch of skin or a pink growth that sometimes crusts or bleeds. These look like sores that simply will not heal. They can sometimes appear shiny or scar-like. Any injury on the skin that does not heal quickly or regularly is suspicious. If you have a lesion that is perpetually bleeding or oozing, do not wait to get it treated.


Where can I get more information?

The Skin Cancer Foundation

National Cancer Institute                                

American Cancer Society