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Skin Cancer Awareness Month: The 3 Biggest Things to Watch For

Keep an Eye Out for These Skin Cancer Symptoms

While skin cancer is common, it can be scary and even deadly if not treated quickly. Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) are the two most common forms of cancer to watch out for. Changing moles can also be a sign of skin cancer. The dermatologists at Dermatology & Mohs Surgery Institute encourage you to learn the signs and symptoms of BCC and SCC while knowing what to look for when examining your moles.


Basal Cell Carcinoma Signs and Symptoms

The most common form of skin cancer is BCC. It develops in the top layer of the skin, allowing you to see signs of it with your own eyes. It appears as a shiny, pearly bump, a sore that does not heal, or a red, irritated patch of skin. The location of these sores and bumps is on areas most often exposed to the sun such as chest, arms, legs and the face. Having BCC diagnosed early prevents damage to any surrounding tissue.


Squamous Cell Carcinoma Signs and Symptoms

The second most common form of skin cancer is SCC. It develops in the middle and outer layers of skin when thin squamous cells develop mutations in their DNA. These mutations are caused by extensive exposure to sunlight or ultraviolet (UV) light. SCC signs include firm red nodules or sores with a scaly crust located on the scalp, hands, ears, or lips. If you notice any of these signs, or are concerned you may have SCC, contact a dermatologist immediately to prevent SCC from spreading. The earlier treatment begins, the better opportunity you have of SCC becoming less aggressive.



While moles are not a kind of skin cancer, they can help determine if you have skin cancer. When examining moles you will want to pay attention to any change in the size, shape, or color of them on your body. Since this is something you can notice on your own, we encourage you to do monthly self-examinations to catch the potential cancer as soon as possible. Whether you decide to examine your own moles or go to the dermatologist for a check-up, the letters A, B, C, D and E are a helpful reminder for what to look for.

First, look for Asymmetry in the mole. If the mole can be perfectly split down the middle, it is symmetrical. If it cannot be, it is asymmetrical and considered a suspect mole.

Second, you will look for the moles Border. If the borders are uneven this is another sign of a suspect, atypical mole.

Next, you will look at the Color of the mole. It should be one shade of brown. If it is multiple shades, this is another mole to keep an eye on.

After examining the color of the mole, you will examine the Diameter. The mole should be the size of an eraser. If it is larger than an eraser, the mole should be considered atypical.

Lastly, pay attention to how your mole(s) Evolve. If the color changes, or the size changes, this is an indicator you should head to a dermatologist to have the mole tested.

If you have noticed one or more of these changes in your moles, contact the dermatologist. They can properly diagnose you and provide you with a treatment plan.

We Can Help

The dermatologists at Dermatology & Mohs Surgery Institute encourage you to participate in monthly self-examinations as well as check-ups in our office. If you are concerned about having skin cancer and are in the Bloomington, Illinois or surrounding areas, complete this form to schedule an appointment with us.

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