How to Spot Dangerous Skin Spots

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All over the world, people are spending more time in the sun without using adequate skin protection. The result is a rise in the number of skin cancer or melanoma cases reported each year. It's important to detect dangerous skin spots early to get the most effective treatment.

  • Be on the lookout for basal cell carcinoma (BCC), which usually occurs in people over 40. You may find it on your head, neck, upper body or extremities. This form is common but not as serious as other types of skin cancer. It grows slowly and looks like a small red, round lump or scaling area that may bleed and does not heal.

  • Watch skin areas that are most exposed to the sun for squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), which usually occurs in people over 50. SCC is a thick, red, crusty spot that ulcerates, bleeds easily and doesn't heal. It can spread to other areas of your body.

  • Notice any flat, scaly patches on your head, neck, arms or extremities that are pale or red in color. Have them checked, they can develop into squamous cell cancers.

  • Beware the least common but most serious type of skin cancer, melanoma. Look for a freckle or mole that changes size, shape or color, or a new spot. Melanoma is blotchy with black, brown, blue, red, white or light gray coloring, and rarely causes pain. It may bleed or itch.

  • Identify nodular melanoma, which typically appears on the skin as a new, small dome-shaped, firm lump which is black, brown, pink or red in color. It grows deep quickly, and is life threatening.

  • Keep a close eye on any irregularly-shaped moles you have, or those that have an uneven color or sting if scratched. People with many moles have a greater risk of developing melanoma. Check for changes regularly and look for any new spots.

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