7 skin cancer warning signs you should never ignore

It’s time to think about the skin you’re in. Skin cancer is curable
if spotted early, but doctors say patients need to be a partner in the
process.

What should you look for? The ABCDEs of melanoma are basic signs, with
doctors urging you to check your moles for asymmetry, border, color,
diameter and evolution, a changing mole which can include new symptoms
like itching, scabbing and bleeding.

Your doctor should be
checking areas of your body where you may not even realize you can get
skin cancer, including the scalp, eyelids, between your fingers and
toes, and behind the ears.

Here are seven warning signs never to ignore:


You notice an ‘ugly duckling’ mole

Pay
attention to a mole that doesn’t look like any of the others on your
body, or is the lone mole on an otherwise spot-free part of your
anatomy.

Moles you’re born with can develop into skin cancer.
And just because you have a new mole, it doesn’t mean it will turn out
bad, but we get fewer new moles as we get older.

There’s a vertical dark streak on your nail

People
often don’t think that you can get melanomas of the nail. Singer Bob
Marley was 36 when he died of acral lentiginous melanoma, which first
showed up as a dark spot under his toenail and spread to his liver and
other parts of the body.

The cancer can look like a pigmented
black or brown streak extending the length of your nail. Or it can be
mistaken for a blood blister that stays towards the base of the nail –
the cuticle area – and never grows out.

Remove nail polish from
your toes and fingers when you go for your skin check. It’ll help your
doctor find any linear streaks that could be melanoma, or bumps that
could be basal cell or squamous cell skin cancer.

You experience vision problems

The
second most common type of melanoma is melanoma of the eye. Just like
you’d have a mole on your skin, a spot can appear in the back of the
eye. Doctors will only discover it when you get your pupils dilated
during an eye exam.

Less than half of patients will actually
have symptoms. If you do have them, they may show up as blurry vision,
floaters, a growing dark spot on the iris and other issues.

You have a ‘pimple’ that won’t go away

Basal
or squamous cell skin cancer can look like a pimple that doesn’t clear
up or go away after a few weeks, a sore that won’t heal or a scab that
keeps recurring.

The “pimple” also may go away and come right back in the same spot, and it won’t have pus when you squeeze it.

You notice a mole on the sole of your foot

Many
people have benign spots on the soles of their feet or the palms of
their hands, but they should be checked out, especially if the mole is
new or changing.

The problem is that people often don’t think to
look for moles on the bottom of their feet and many aren’t limber
enough to check there.

You experience changes after having a mole removed

If
you’ve had a mole removed and you start seeing pigmentation that’s
extending outside the scar, that’s extremely concerning, even if the
original mole was benign. A mole that’s spreading beyond its initial
footprint means it has now changed or progressed.

Be sure to tell your doctor if you spot a lump or a bump that occurs near the scar, or if you feel pain in that area.

There’s a black spot inside your cheek

Another
less-known location where you can get melanoma is in your mucous
membranes. That includes inside your cheek, nasal cavity, anal region
and the vagina.

None of these are caused by the sun – it’s not
known why people get them, which is important that people get their
mucous membranes examined.

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