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Skin cancer is most commonly found on areas of the skin that have had a lot of sun exposure, including the face, scalp, lips, ears, chest, neck, arms, legs, and hands. Despite this, it has been known to also show up on places of the body that infrequently see sun, such as beneath your fingernails, between your toes or under your toenails, or on your palms. Skin cancer can affect people with all skin tones, even people with darker complexions. A skin lesion that is cancerous can develop slowly or can appear all of a sudden, and this is primarily determined by the type of skin cancer.
Types of Skin Cancer
Basal Cell Carcinoma: This is the most easily and most commonly treated cancer. It is also the least likely to spread. Basal cell carcinoma usually appears in the following forms: a pearly or waxy looking bump on your ears, neck, or face, or a flat flesh colored or or brown scar like lesion that appears on your back or chest.
Squamos Cell Carcinoma: Squamos Cell Carcinoma can be treated easily if it is detected early, but it can be very quick to spread. It usually appears as one of the following: a firm red nodule that appears on your lips, ears, neck, hands, arms, or face, or a flat lesion that has a scaly crusted surface that appears on your arms, hands, neck, ears, or face.
Melanoma: This is the most serious form of skin cancer; in fact, it is the kind that is responsible for the most deaths due to skin cancer. It can develop anywhere on your body, but appears most frequently on the head, neck, or trunk of men and the arms and legs of women. There are some warning signs to look out for with melanoma. The first warning sign is a brownish spot that has darker speckles and can be located anywhere on the body. The second warning sign to be aware of is when a simple mole located anywhere on your body can change in size, color, or feel, or if it begins to bleed, A third sign is a tiny lesion with a border that is irregular with red, white, blue, or blue-black spots found on your trunk or on your limbs. The fourth warning sign is shiny, firm and dome shaped bumps that can be found anywhere on the body. The final warning sign to watch out for is dark lesions on your palms, fingertips and toes, soles of your feet, or on the mucous membranes in your mouth, nose, anus, and vagina.
Kaposi Sarcoma: This is a less common form of skin cancer that develops in the skin’s blood vessels. It causes red or purple patches on the skin or on the mucous membranes. This is a serious form of skin cancer, and is usually observed in people who have weak immune systems, such as people taking medications that suppress their natural immunity (people who have undergone transplants) or with people who have AIDS.
Merkel Cell Carcinoma: This is another rare form of skin cancer. This form of skin cancer appears as shiny nodules that occur just beneath or on the skin and in hair follicles. These nodules may be the colors red, blue, or pink, and can be anywhere from about a quarter of an inch to about two inches. This form of cancer is typically found in areas that are sun-exposed, such as on the head, neck, legs, and arms. Merkel Cell Carcinoma will grow fast and spread very quickly.
Sebaceous Gland Carcinoma: This cancer is very rare, yet also is very aggressive. It starts in the oil glands found in the skin. The sebaceous gland carcinomas typically show up as very hard yet painless nodules. Although they can appear anywhere, they often appear on the eyelid.
There are also precancerous skin lesions which can develop into squamos cell skin cancer. This is known as actinic keratoses, and it appears as brown or dark pink rough, scaly patches. Most commonly, they are found on the ears, face, lower arms and the hands of people with fair skin who have had their skin damaged by the sun. It is extremely important that if you suspect that you may have any of these forms of skin cancer that you see a dermatologist immediately. Early detection and treatment is so important.