Have you ever wondered what causes a common mole to develop into skin cancer? Most moles never cause problems and don't progress to skin cancer.
There are a number of reasons you may want to have a doctor or dermatologist look at a skin growth:
It"s new to you
It"s a former mole that"s growing or spreading
The growth is irritated or hurts
There is bleeding from the growth
It looks like a sore that won't heal
Because you have a new spot or there has been a change doesn"t automatically mean it"s cancerous. Let"s talk about what you should be looking for and what to do if you notice something different on your skin.
What is Precancerous Skin Growth?
Precancerous skin growths develop on skin that has a lot of sun exposure over time without proper protection. While it"s not considered cancer yet, it can turn into it in the future. While many forms of precancerous skin growths can form after the age of 40, it can also happen at an earlier age, especially if you live, or have lived, in areas with a lot of sunshine.
Actinic keratosis (AK) is the most common type of growth that can become precancerous. Some people say an AK feels rough, like a spot of sandpaper on the skin. Many oncologists consider AKs as early squamous cell cancers (SCC). If left untreated, AKs will likely progress into nonmelanoma skin cancer, mainly SCCs.
If precancerous skin growths are left untreated, they may result in one of the following types of skin cancer:
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer, according to the American Cancer Society, making up the majority of skin cancer cases in the United States. If found early, it is easily treatable.
Squamous cell carcinoma is less common but more serious because it is more likely to spread to other parts of the body. It can be treated successfully if detected early. The cure rate is more than 90%. However, if it spreads (which happens in 1 to 5% of cases), it is much harder to treat.
Melanoma is severe skin cancer and is harder to treat. In as few as six weeks, it can spread quickly to other parts of the body or internal organs.
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