Skin cancer – what to look out for

Since its SunSmart Skin Cancer Awareness month, it’s important that you educate yourself about how to take better care of your skin, so that you can prevent skin cancer and know what to look out for to catch the disease early if you do have it.

What is skin cancer?

Skin cancer is an abnormal growth of skin cells, which usually develops on skin that is exposed to the sun and becomes damaged over time. There are three major types of skin cancer – basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma.

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) – is the most common form of skin cancer. BCCs arise from abnormal, uncontrolled growth of basal cells. Basal cells are one of three main types of cells in the top layer of the skin, they shed as new ones form.

For this type of cancer, Choma, you need to look out for a small “pearly” bumps that looks like a flesh-coloured mole or a pimple that doesn’t go away. Sometimes these growths can look dark, or may look like pink patches on the skin. Another symptom to watch out for is a waxy, hard skin growth.

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) – is the second most common form of skin cancer. It’s usually found on areas of the body damaged by ultra-violet rays from the sun or tanning beds. Sun-exposed skin includes the head, neck, chest, upper back, ears, lips, arms, legs, and hands.

To spot this type of cancer you need to look out for a round bump or a red, scaly patch of skin. It’s usually rough and crusty, and can bleed easily when scraped. Large growths may itch or hurt. It may also pop through scars or chronic skin sores, so check for any changes and report them to a healthcare professional immediately.

Melanoma – is a type of cancer that begins in melanocytes (cells that are responsible for your skin tone). Melanoma can also start in the eye, the intestines, or other areas of the body with pigmented tissues. This kind of cancer starts off as a change in the shape, colour, size, or feel of an existing mole. However, melanoma may also appear as a new mole.

Choma, make it a habit to know your body, so that when any new changes develop you can notice them and get help before it becomes something serious. For more info on different skin cancers and how to protect your skin, read this. Remember to visit your nearest healthcare provider if you experience any of the symptoms mentioned here.

If you or a friend would like clarity or help on anything, get in touch with me on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Messagea Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).