Saturday, December 22, 2012

"Does This Look Like Skin Cancer?"

One of the questions I get asked the most since having basal cell and melanoma skin cancer, is "Does this look like skin cancer/melanoma?"  I always respond the same.  

" If you are worried about it, see a dermatologist and get it removed. "

I can't say this enough...if you have a questionable spot, a new spot, a bleeding spot, or ANYTHING that you THINK may not be normal growing on your skin, GO TO A DERMATOLOGIST ASAP!

 DERMATOLOGIST- A doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of skin disorders. 

I really don't mind people showing me their moles, freckles, pimples, (well maybe not pimples), but if you are going to show me, I am going to tell you to also show a dermatologist. I am NOT a dermatologist, and I know that if you are showing me your spot, then you are worried that you may have skin cancer.  Or melanoma.  If you weren't worried, then you wouldn't show me and want me to tell you if you have cancer.  GO see a dermatologist and DON'T wait.  Don't think you are being ridiculous, or wasting your time.  Don't forget about it and see what happens.  What happens isn't pretty.  Skin cancer is disfiguring.

If you don't know of a dermatologist, ask your doctor to refer you.  Or ask family,or friends who they use.  If you have moles, you should be seeing a dermatologist regularly to have skin checks on your moles to make sure there are no abnormal changes. You should do your own skin checks monthly as well.  Look for the ABCD's of skin cancer.

There are 3 Types of Skin Cancer and they fall into two groups:Non-melanoma and Melanoma.

Basal Cell Carcinoma

"Basal Cell Carcinoma is the most frequently occuring form of skin cancer.  BCCs are abnormal, uncontrolled growths or lesions that arise in the skin’s basal cells, which line the deepest layer of the epidermis (the outermost layer of the skin). BCCs often look like open sores, red patches, pink growths, shiny bumps, or scars. Usually caused by a combination of cumulative UV exposure and intense, occasional UV exposure, BCC can be highly disfiguring if allowed to grow, but almost never spreads (metastastasizes) beyond the original tumor site. Only in exceedingly rare cases can BCC spread to other parts of the body and become life-threatening.
There are an estimated 2.8 million cases of BCC diagnosed in the US each year. In fact, it is the most frequently occurring form of all cancers. More than one out of every three new cancers are skin cancers, and the vast majority are BCCs. It shouldn’t be taken lightly: this skin cancer can be disfiguring if not treated promptly. Are you at risk?" (Source

Squamous Cell Carcinoma 

"Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells arising in the squamous cells, which compose most of the skin’s upper layers (the epidermis). SCCs often look like scaly red patches, open sores, elevated growths with a central depression, or warts; they may crust or bleed. SCC is mainly caused by cumulative UV exposure over the course of a lifetime. It can become disfiguring and sometimes deadly if allowed to grow. An estimated 700,000 cases of SCC are diagnosed each year in the US, resulting in approximately 2,500 deaths.
SCCs may occur on all areas of the body including the mucous membranes and genitals, but are most common in areas frequently exposed to the sun, such as the rim of the ear, lower lip, face, bald scalp, neck, hands, arms and legs. Often the skin in these areas reveals telltale signs of sun damage, such as wrinkling, changes in pigmentation, and loss of elasticity." (Source


"The most dangerous form of skin cancer, these cancerous growths develop when unrepaired DNA damage to skin cells (most often caused by ultraviolet radiation from sunshine or tanning beds) triggers mutations (genetic defects) that lead the skin cells to multiply rapidly and form malignant tumors.  These tumors originate in the pigment-producing melanocytes in the basal layer of the epidermis. Melanomas often resemble moles; some develop from moles. The majority of melanomas are black or brown, but they can also be skin-colored, pink, red, purple, blue or white. Melanoma is caused mainly by intense, occasional UV exposure (frequently leading to sunburn), especially in those who are genetically predisposed to the disease. Melanoma kills an estimated 8,790 people in the US annually.
If melanoma is recognized and treated early, it is almost always curable, but if it is not, the cancer can advance and spread to other parts of the body, where it becomes hard to treat and can be fatal. While it is not the most common of the skin cancers, it causes the most deaths. The American Cancer Society estimates that at present, about 120,000 new cases of melanoma in the US are diagnosed in a year. In 2010, about 68,130 of these were invasive melanomas, with about 38,870 in males and 29,260 in women." (Source

 I know that there have been many people who have had something that a dermatologist has told them doesn't look like anything worrisome, and want to watch it, only to find out later on that it WAS something and that something was left to grow and now it is too late.  Not all skin cancer's LOOK or ACT like skin cancers!  If you question if it is cancer, get it biopsied.  Don't take no for an answer!  Don't wait and watch it and don't let a doctor tell you to just wait and watch it!  Doctors ARE human.  They don't know EVERYTHING and they make mistakes.  (Trust me on this.  I work with doctors!)  And remember, if you are scared to have something biopsied, it is better to catch it early.  The longer it is let go, the worse the scar, treatment and prognosis.  No one wants a scar, but a scar is MUCH better than being dead. So, put on your big girl, or big boy pants and GO GET IT CHECKED!!

That little annoying spot, MAY be nothing, but at least you will know and it will be caught early if it is skin cancer.  Trust me, you are NOT invincible.  You are not immune.  You have skin, therefore you CAN get skin cancer.  You can get melanoma and you can die from it.  If you are a tanner, please realize the major, REAL risk you are taking when you tan.

Unfortunately, it IS someone's reality.


  1. Hi Melissa, your previous post was wonderful as well, thankyou for sharing. And this post is an important reminder for many and a real educational wake-up for those who may be reading for the first time.
    May you and your family enjoy a truly blessed Christmas.

  2. I hear myself in this blog! I have written something like this so many times, answered the same question a million times over and will continue to. I have even referred my own derm out to those that inquire.

    Here's wishing you a wonderful holiday!

    Great post!!!

    1. Thanks Kisma! I hope you continue to educate :)

      Wishing you a very wonderful Christmas and New Year!

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  4. This was my first visit to a dermatologist, so I can't make any real comparisons to others. I've had good skin my whole life until recently, a little bit of adult acne.Let's see what happen next..I wish you lot.
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  5. Thank you for giving information on skin cancer.It is really good and helpful for the people.Keep giving such a valuable information.
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