Lifestyle & Health - What are the signs of skin cancer?

January 10, 2017
Applying sunscreen

Joel R. is a 54-year-old man who was recently diagnosed with skin cancer to his face.

Joel says that the cancer was flat and resembled a "freckle", and he would never have noticed it without his doctor seeing it during a recent visit for something else.

He asks Check Up what are the signs to look out for with skin cancer.

Skin cancer develops mostly on areas of the skin which are exposed to the sun, including the face, scalp, ears, neck and lips.

But skin cancer can be found just about everywhere, so you should also look for it on the chest, arms, hands and legs on women and even on the genitalia.

Skin cancer also affects all skin tones, inclusive of dark-skinned people. Skin cancer can appear as a pearly bump or as a brownish scar.

Other cancers can appear on the sun-exposed areas of the body and resemble firm, red nodules or are flat and scaly.

Melanomas occur anywhere but tend to affect the palms and soles and can either resemble a large brown spot containing lighter brown speckles, or a mole that changes in colour and size.

When skin cancer is queried, a biopsy removing the entire growth is done to determine the cancer staging.

Additional treatment includes freezing the lesions with liquid nitrogen, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, if the cancer has progressed.

Most skin cancers are preventable. Try to:

- Avoid the hot sun.

- Wear sunscreen all the time with SPF greater than 15.

- Wear sunglasses

- Wear protective clothing which adequately covers arms and legs.

- Use a mirror to examine the back of the neck, ears and scalp.

- Also check genitalia and buttock.

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