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What is a skin spot?

4 Answer(s) Available
Answer # 1 #

There is no definitive description of what skin cancer looks like, so becoming familiar with your own skin and regularly self-checking your body for signs of change is the best way to catch skin cancer early. Keep an eye on spots that look different to others on your body, spots that have changed in size, shape, colour or texture, and sores that itch, bleed, or don’t heal. If you notice any of these signs, see your doctor and seek their expert opinion.

There are three common types of skin cancers—basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. What do these skin cancers look like? They can all look quite different. Below are some examples of each kind for your reference:

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) accounts for about 70 per cent of all keratinocyte cancers (or non-melanoma skin cancer) diagnoses. These types of skin cancers grow slowly over months or years and having one BCC increases your risk of developing another.

BCC usually develops on sun-exposed areas, although they can appear anywhere on the body. You might first notice it as a pearly or shiny lump, or scaly area that is pale fleshy tone, pink or darker red in colour. This type of cancerous spot can become inflamed and ulcerate, and some seem to partially heal then flare up again.

See your doctor if you suspect you have a BCC.

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) accounts for about 30 per cent of remaining  keratinocyte cancer diagnoses. These skin cancers can grow very quickly over the course of weeks or months, and are more common as you get older. Although rare, they do have the ability to spread if not treated early, particularly if on the face.

SCC usually develops on sun-exposed areas, although they can appear anywhere on the body. You might first notice it as either a thickened red, scaly or crusted spot, or a rapidly-growing lump. You may notice this type of cancerous spot bleeds and becomes inflamed and is often tender to touch.

See your doctor if you suspect you have SCC.

Melanoma is not as common as BCC or SCC, but it is considered the most serious as it is more likely to spread if not caught early.

Melanoma can develop anywhere on the body, so it’s important to check those places not often exposed to the sun. You might first notice melanoma as a new spot or existing spot that has changed in colour, shape or size over several weeks or months. It can have either a flat or raised surface and may have an irregular border. Melanomas can also be more than one colour.

See your doctor if you suspect you have a melanoma.

This is a fast-growing and aggressive form of melanoma that can spread quickly into the lower layer of the skin and so early detection is particularly critical.

Nodular melanoma appears as a round, raised lump (dome-shaped nodule) on the surface of the skin that is pink, red, brown or black and feels firm to touch. It may develop a crusty surface that bleeds easily.

Don’t delay in seeing your doctor if you suspect you have a nodular melanoma.

There are a number of other skin spots that should not be ignored. Although they are non-cancerous, they may act as an indicator of increased risk or warning signs for skin cancer and should be monitored for changes.

Moles are very common, normal growths on the skin. If you have many moles on your body, it may run in your family, or you may have developed them as a result of increased time spent in the sun, particularly during childhood.

Moles are either brown, black, or skin coloured. They most often have a defined oval shape.

Moles have a small risk of developing into melanoma, however individuals with large number of moles are at greater risk of developing melanoma. Observe moles carefully for any sign of change.

A dysplastic naevus is a type of mole with an irregular shape and uneven colour. It may be known as an atypical naevus or mole. People with many of these spots have a greater risk of developing melanoma. It is particularly important to look for changes in dysplastic naevus as a small number of them may develop into melanoma.

If you suspect you have multiple dysplastic naevi, see your doctor about determining a suitable surveillance plan.

Solar keratoses also known as sunspots or actinic keratoses, are flat, scaly spots that feel rough to the touch and are either skin coloured or red. They are most common in people over 40 and on skin that’s often exposed to the sun.

Sunspots are a warning sign that you’ve spent too much time in the sun unprotected and may indicate that you have a higher risk of developing skin cancer in the future. If left untreated, can develop into squamous cell carcinoma.

See your doctor if you suspect you have sunspots to determine a suitable surveillance plan.

A harmless spot with a discrete edge that looks like it sits on top of the skin or appear like a wart. Most people have at least one or two of these spots by the age of 60.

Seborrheic keratoses can vary in colour from pale brown to orange or black, and vary in size from a few millimetres to 20 millimetres.

Mabrouk Barlatier
Principal Dancer
Answer # 2 #

Skin lesions are areas of your skin that are different from the skin around them. Skin lesions are common and may be the result of an injury or damage to your skin, like sunburn. They’re sometimes a sign of underlying conditions, like infections or autoimmune diseases. The majority of skin lesions are noncancerous and harmless (benign), but they can be a sign of something more serious.

Skin sores refer to a type of skin lesion, like ulcers. Commonly, the terms sore and lesion are used to refer to the same type of abnormal skin.

Acne is a skin lesion. It can appear on your skin as a pimple, whitehead, blackhead, papule or cyst and can be cosmetically bothersome or even painful. Acne forms when bacteria, dead skin cells and oil create lesions that are usually on your face, chest and back. There are many different types of cleansers, creams, lotions and oral medications that can treat acne. Use products that won’t clog pores (non-comedogenic) or visit a provider for a personalized treatment plan.

Skin lesions that are benign are noncancerous and often harmless. These lesions are abnormal growths on your skin. Most benign lesions don’t need treatment unless they’re bothering you or you don’t like how they look. Examples of benign skin lesions include:

Skin lesions that are malignant are skin cancer. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the U.S.

Signs of skin cancer include:

Skin lesions affect everyone. Some lesions appear at birth (congenital) and pose no threat to your well-being (freckles, many types of moles). If you have allergies, you can get skin lesions if you come in contact with allergens that you’re sensitive to. If you have chronic conditions, like psoriasis, you’re likely to experience recurring skin lesions in your lifetime.

One way of dividing skin lesions is primary versus secondary. Primary lesions are changes in your skin that aren’t associated with other conditions and include:

Examples of primary skin lesions include acne, birthmarks, insect bites and sunburn.

Secondary lesions are changes in a primary lesion. This can happen because of itching, another direct injury or a skin lesion that shows up as part of a more complex, underlying condition. Secondary lesions include:

Examples of secondary lesions include scabbing, cuts and scrapes due to itching or dry skin from psoriasis or allergies.

Skin lesions appear anywhere on your body. The type of skin lesion varies by location. For example, acne and eczema are skin lesions that occur in a particular pattern.

Noncancerous (benign) skin lesions are very common (for example, sunburn or acne).

Werner Steinbeck
Chief Administrative Office
Answer # 3 #

The type of skin cancer a person gets is determined by where the cancer begins. If the cancer begins in skin cells called basal cells, the person has basal cell skin cancer. When cells that give our skin its color become cancerous, melanoma develops.

Here you’ll see what the most common types of skin cancer can look like and who tends to develop each type.

Basal cell carcinoma: This is the most common type of skin cancer. It looks like a flesh-colored, pearl-like bump, or pinkish patch of skin. Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) This is the most common type of skin cancer.

Squamous cell carcinoma: The second most common type of skin cancer. Often looks like a red firm bump, scaly patch, or a sore that heals and then re-opens. Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the skin SCC is the second most common type of skin cancer.

Actinic keratoses: These dry, scaly patches or spots are precancerous growths. SCC can develop from a precancerous skin growth Some people develop dry, scaly patches or spots on their skin called actinic keratoses (AKs). Also caused by too much sun, an AK isn’t skin cancer. An AK is a precancerous skin growth that can turn into a common type of skin cancer, squamous cell carcinoma.

Melanoma: The deadliest form of skin cancer. Frequently develops in a mole or suddenly appears as a new dark spot on the skin. Melanoma Melanoma is often called "the most serious skin cancer" because it has a tendency to spread.

Pritish Vijan
Sports Development Officer
Answer # 4 #

Some spots caused by aging and sun exposure are benign, while others need medical attention. Learn the difference.

If you've recently spent any time in the sun, you may have noticed that you have a few more spots—brown or tan or white—on the exposed parts of your body. Even if you always use sun protection now, you can still develop skin changes caused by sun exposure decades ago. The good news is that most of these will not be cancerous. However, distinguishing benign spots from those that warrant medical attention can be somewhat tricky. Though the following are caused by sun exposure, they won't progress to cancer.

If you've had freckles since you were a kid, you no doubt know how they behave—darkening in the sun and heat and fading in the winter. Freckles themselves are not a cause for worry, but they signal an increased risk of developing skin cancer.

This condition, marked by irregular dark patches, is more common in women and may appear in one's 20s and 30s. The patches are often triggered by excessive sun exposure and intensified by changes in hormone levels associated with contraceptives, pregnancy, or postmenopausal hormone therapy. Low levels of thyroid hormone may also contribute. Melasma can affect people with all skin types and become darker with sun exposure. It may disappear during menopause as estrogen and progesterone levels decline.

These are commonly called "age spots" or "liver spots." They are irregular in shape, larger than freckles, and vary from tan to very dark brown. They occur in sun-exposed skin. Some are direct consequences of severe sunburns. They are common in people of all skin types.

These are usually round, dark, and raised. They are often described as appearing to be stuck on, like a piece of gum. If you're unsure whether you have a seborrheic keratosis or a melanoma, see a dermatologist.

The medical term for these small smooth spots is idiopathic guttate hypo-melanoses. Women are more likely than men to have this condition and usually develop it after age 40, usually on areas of the body exposed to the sun.

There is no medical reason to treat any of the above, but scores of over-the-counter products are promoted for reducing the appearance of dark spots or improving skin tone. This is a buyer-beware situation, because these products are cosmetics rather than prescription drugs, their manufacturers don't have to demonstrate their effectiveness.

However, dermatologists have several proven techniques for treating dark and light skin patches, including chemical peels and prescription ointments containing hydroquinone or retinoic acid. Laser therapy can be effective for dark spots. All of these treatments are considered cosmetic, so your insurance won't pay for them.

Check your skin regularly for moles that are new, growing, changing, or irregular in shape and color. They could be a sign of melanoma, the deadliest skin cancer, and should be checked by a dermatologist as soon as possible. If melanoma runs in your family or if you have more than 40 moles, have used tanning beds, or have had several sunburns, you're at increased risk and should have your skin checked regularly by a dermatologist.

Solar, or actinic, keratoses also warrant a trip to the dermatologist because they can progress to a form of cancer called squamous cell carcinoma. They are red, pink, tan, or clear bumps that often feel rough or scaly. They may also appear as sandpapery patches that are hard to distinguish from the surrounding skin, except by touch. Although not quite as deadly as melanoma, squamous cell skin cancer can grow deep into surrounding tissue and can occasionally spread to other parts of the body.

Zolee Rosa
Sound Designer