Skin Cancer Signs & Diagnosis
Learning how to recognize the signs of skin cancer can help you determine when you should seek the professional opinion of a dermatologist specializing in skin cancer. As discussed in the following sections, signs vary, depending on the skin cancer type. Although the majority of skin growths are not skin cancers, only a specialist can make a definitive diagnosis.
A board-certified dermatologist in Florida and skin cancer specialist, Dr. Alysa Herman is one of an elite few who have completed an American College of Mohs Surgery (ACMS) fellowship in Mohs and Dermatologic Surgery. Because Dr. Herman limits her practice specifically to surgical dermatology and Mohs surgery, which is the most effective treatment for most types of skin cancer, she has the skills and experience to achieve an optimal outcome for her skin cancer patients.
Meet Dr. Alysa Herman
If you've been diagnosed with skin cancer, you need a physician who is exceptionally qualified, experienced and compassionate. Dr. Herman is renowned among physicians and patients for her credentials and her dedication to patient care.
If you've been diagnosed with skin cancer, you need a physician who is exceptionally qualified, experienced and compassionate. Dr. Herman is renowned among physicians and patients for her credentials and her dedication to patient care.Request Your Consultation
Basal Cell Carcinoma
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer in people with light skin. Although less common, it does occur in people with darker skin types.
- Areas of skin to check: Basal cell carcinoma typically occurs on the areas of skin that receive the most sun exposure, such as the face, ears, neck, arms, and hands.
- Signs to look for: The American College of Mohs Surgery describes basal cell carcinoma as resembling a blemish that won't heal or a shiny, pearly bump that does not go away. It may bleed if minor trauma occurs to that area. Alternatively, basal cell carcinoma may look like a rough, reddened patch.
Squamous Cell Cancer
Although those with light skin, hair, and eyes are at the highest risk for developing squamous cell carcinoma, all individuals with chronic sun exposure are at risk. In contrast to basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma can spread into the lymph nodes and internal organs.
- Areas of skin to check: Squamous cell carcinoma generally occurs on the face, ears, lips, scalp, hands, and lower legs.
- Signs to look for: Squamous cell carcinoma typically looks like a red, crusted bump or rough, scaly patch, and the American College of Mohs Surgery reports that it sometimes is mistaken for a patch of dry skin or a wart.
Although less common, melanoma is one of the most dangerous types of skin cancer. About two-thirds of melanomas appear on a previously normal area of skin, while the other third occur in already existing moles.
- Areas of skin to check: Melanoma typically appears on women's lower legs, and on men's backs, chests, or abdomens. However, it can develop on any area of the body.
- Signs to look for: Often developing in an existing mole or appearing to be a new mole, melanomas typically are brown to black lesions that, according to the American College of Mohs Surgery website, have uneven borders, colors or surfaces. When they appear on sun-damaged skin such as the face, melanomas may look like a brown patch or unevenly colored freckle.
Skin Cancer Diagnosis
Early detection and treatment improve the likelihood for an optimal outcome. To help you promptly detect any of the signs described here, follow these guidelines:
- Examine your skin each month, scrutinizing the areas noted for suspicious skin changes.
- Become familiar with the existing scars, spots, freckles, and moles on your skin, so that you can easily notice any changes.
- Schedule an appointment with a dermatologist specializing in skin cancer, such as Dr. Herman, immediately if you do detect any significant changes.
At your appointment, Dr. Herman will examine your skin carefully. She will ask you about your symptoms, when you first detected the change in your skin, and your typical exposure to the sun. If you have a suspicious growth, she will then perform a skin biopsy. Dr. Herman will then send the tissue to a lab to be evaluated by a dermatopathologist for a diagnosis.
If the pathology report confirms skin cancer, Dr. Herman will discuss with you appropriate options for skin cancer treatments at her Florida practice.Back to Top