Skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer, affecting people of all ages and skin types. Unprotected, prolonged sun exposure is a major cause, particularly when combined with other risk factors, such as having fair skin, a family history of skin cancer or several incidents of sunburn. Early diagnosis and appropriate treatment significantly improve the outlook for skin cancer patients. Knowing which early warning signs to look out for enables you to seek prompt medical care and improve your chances of a full recovery.
Changes in Mole Size, Color and Appearance
Changes in the size or color of an existing mole can be an indicator of skin cancer. Moles that appear to spread, shrink, thicken, flatten or change size in any way need to be assessed by a medical professional. Moles that become darker, lighter or change color can also be a cause for concern. Pay attention to the size, shape and color of moles on your body, as you will be more likely to notice subtle changes when you are familiar with your existing moles.
Bleeding, scabbing, crusting and changes in the texture of a mole, such as a new smooth or rough texture, need prompt medical investigation. Discolouration, inflammation or reddening of the skin surrounding a mole should also be checked. White spots on a mole or the surrounding skin may also be a cause for concern.
Unusual sensations on or around a mole could be another indicator of skin cancer. Unexplained tingling, itching, swelling, soreness or numbness needs to be checked by your doctor, particularly if accompanied by a change in appearance. Unusual sensations can be caused by a variety of factors and are not necessarily a sign of serious disease, but persistent sensations that last longer than a week should be examined by a medical professional.
If it is larger than the end of a pencil, a new mole should always be checked by a doctor, particularly if it is an odd shape or unusual color. Smaller moles are usually harmless, but if a new mole looks considerably different from other moles on your body ask your doctor for advice.
Most mole changes and new moles are completely harmless. However, it is always worth mentioning any concerns to your doctor, as prompt medical attention is essential for the successful treatment of skin cancer.References