When the clothes come off in warmer weather, more skin is noticeable and susceptible to skin cancers. It is a good time to make a quick evaluation of one’s own body. There are three varieties of skin cancers: squamous cell, basal cell, and melanoma.
Squamous cell skin cancers begin within the squamous cells. People with darker skin tones often get these types of cancers on the legs or feet. Fair skin people get these types of cancers around the head, face, ears and neck. This type of skin cancer can sometimes spread to other parts of the body and often appears as a firm red nodule or scaly crusty growth that may bleed.
Basal cell skin cancers begin within the skin’s basal cell layer. This type of skin cancer is often in areas that receive the most sun exposure, such as the face. It is the most common skin cancer in fair-skinned people. Because they spread more slowly, basal skin cancers are more easily treated. It may first appear as a white or waxy bump.
Melanoma is a skin cancer that begins in the pigment cells: Melanocytes. Because pigment cells are everywhere, this type of skin cancer can show up on the head, neck, legs, hips or shoulders. Melanomas are rarer in people with darker skin. When it does occur, it is often found under the finger or toenails, palms of hands or soles of the feet. This is an aggressive cancer if not caught early.
A dermatologist can give you a baseline of any skin conditions. An individual should monitor those conditions because skin cancers are able to invade normal tissues that are nearby. Learn the ABCDEs of skin cancer: asymmetry, borders, color variations, diameter, and evolution. If any mole changes in size, color, shape, or oozes or bleeds, seek medical advice.