Skin Cancer Awareness Month: Detecting the Early Stages of Skin Cancer

 Skin Cancer Awareness Month: Detecting the Early Stages of Skin Cancer

The first signs of skin cancer aren’t always easy to spot. Sun damage can linger on the skin for years before becoming noticeable. However, there are some early signs of skin cancer that you can detect during your regular self-checks. Here are some of the first signs of the most common types of skin cancers.


While melanoma can develop over time, the early signs may also appear suddenly. This disease is the most aggressive form of skin cancer, so it’s extra important to spot early. Be sure to call your dermatologist if you notice any new or rapidly growing moles. Other early signs of melanoma can be moles that are itching, bleeding, changing color, or evolving in any way. Even if you aren’t concerned, it’s best to report any changes in your moles. The earlier your dermatologist spots melanoma, the more effectively they can treat the disease.

Basal Cell Carcinoma

This type of skin cancer develops in the basal cells. The symptoms of basal cell carcinoma may not be obvious at first, so it’s important to check your skin for changes in texture and sensation. Pay particular attention to the areas of your body that are often exposed to the sun, like your face, arms, and hands.

Some of the early signs of basal cell carcinoma include shiny, pearly, or waxy bumps. It can also appear as a flesh-colored bump, which might have an indented center. Sores that won’t heal can be signs of basal cell carcinoma as well.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

The signs of squamous cell carcinoma differ slightly from those of basal cell carcinoma. The most common early symptoms include red scaly patches and dome-shaped bumps. A skin bump or nodule may look like a wart, so be sure to call your dermatologist about any new bumps. The scaly patches on the skin may crust or bleed over time. You might also notice changes in the skin around the sores or patches, including wrinkling and pigment changes.

Actinic Keratosis

While actinic keratosis isn’t a form of skin cancer, it can lead to skin cancer if left untreated. These lesions appear as a result of sun exposure over time and may develop into squamous cell carcinoma.

Actinic keratoses appear as scaly, dry, or crusty patches of skin. These patches are generally raised and can be a variety of colors, such as brown, dark tan, pink, and red. Some people will experience itching and burning on these patches as well. You won’t be able to tell on your own whether these lesions are precancerous. So, be sure to make an appointment with your dermatologist as soon as you spot one. They will likely remove the spot if it’s precancerous.

Remember: These aren’t the only early skin cancer symptoms, nor are they the only symptoms. It’s imperative to report any changes in skin appearance or texture to your dermatologist. They can perform a skin cancer screening and provide an accurate diagnosis.

If you have an area of your skin that you’re concerned about or are due for a screening, contact Pacific Dermatology Specialists today. Our team of board-certified dermatologists offers skin cancer testing, diagnostics, and treatment. With offices in Downey, CA and the surrounding area, we are proud to offer the latest treatments like Mohs micrographic surgery. Contact us today to make an appointment or learn more about our services.

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