The Weird Sign You Have Skin Cancer

Got a black weird-looking mole? You might have skin cancer.

Haven’t got any weird-looking mole? Then you don’t have skin cancer. Right?

Uh, wrong.

When it comes to skin cancer, the sign isn’t exclusively a big, black, weird mole. Sometimes, the sign is a little more “normal” and inconspicuous. Like an itch that just won’t go away. Or maybe a lesion that’s feeling quite tender. At least that’s what a study from the Temple University School of Medicine found out.

The two most common forms of skin cancer are squamous cell and basal cell carcinomas. In both, researchers found out that itching and pain are the usual complaints. In fact, over 40% of patients with squamous cell carcinoma reported that their lesions hurt nearly twice the rate of those with basal cell.

The reason for this? Well, according to Gil Yosipovitch MD, who authored the study, it’s because squamous cells tend to be deeper in the skin compared to basal cells. Deeper processes in the skin, as the good doctor said, are more associated with the activation of the fibers that cause pain rather than those that cause itchiness.
So if you feel any pain on the skin without any obvious reason (no cuts or bruises), the best course of action is to set up an appointment with your physician. The same is true if you experience any itch that lasts for 6 weeks or longer. And when you talk to the doc, make sure that you make it known that you are experiencing pain and itchiness, and where. This makes it easier for your doctor to identify which of the lesions should be biopsied first, especially if you have several suspicious-looking ones.

Of course, any time when you have strange-looking lesions, you should see a doctor. Even when there isn’t any pain or itch at all. What you need to look out for are shiny red bumps, open sores and patches of red skin. Those are usually indicative of basal cell cancers. Meanwhile, squamous cell cancers often appear thick and scaly, although it’s not unheard of for the signs to look the same as the basal cell kind.

While the two cancers, squamous cell and basal cell, don’t typically spread, they still need to be treated. That’s because they do grow. And when that happens, there may be some disfigurement, especially around the face. It could distort the ears and the nose.

Interestingly, the study also found that pain and itch aren’t common indicators of melanoma. Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer. If you suspect melanoma, this is what you need to look for instead: asymmetrical moles where one half doesn’t match the other, moles with irregular or ragged borders, moles with uneven color (often black, brown or tan), moles bigger than a pencil-sized eraser in diameter or a mole that has changed in the past weeks. If you notice any of the above, then see a doctor immediately.

Skin cancer is more common than people think. And many times, people don’t even know that they have it. It’s highly treatable, but only if it’s actually diagnosed. So always pay attention to your skin.