There’s no such thing as a healthy tan. Melanoma can develop anywhere on your body, in otherwise normal skin or in an existing mole that becomes cancerous. In both men and women, melanoma can occur on skin that hasn’t been exposed to the sun. It most often appears on the trunk, head or neck of affected men, and most often develops on the lower legs of women.
Melanoma can affect people of any skin tone. In people with darker skin tones, melanoma tends to occur on the palms or soles, or under the fingernails or toenails.
The ABCD’s of Melanoma
A sudden or continuous change in the appearance of a mole could be a sign of melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer. Change is a warning sign that you should see your doctor right away.
A for Asymmetry
One half is different than the other.
B for Border Irregularity
Edges are notched, uneven, or blurred.
C for Color
Color is uneven, with shades of brown, tan,
and black present.
D for Diameter
Diameter is greater than 6 millimeters.
Other types of skin cancer include:
Basal cell carcinoma
Basal cell carcinoma usually occurs in sun-exposed areas of your body, such as your neck or face.
Basal cell carcinoma may appear as:
- A pearly or waxy bump
- A flat, flesh-colored or brown scar-like lesion
Squamous cell carcinoma
Most often, squamous cell carcinoma occurs on sun-exposed areas of your body, such as your face, ears and hands. People with darker skin are more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma on areas that aren’t often exposed to sun, such as the legs and feet.
Squamous cell carcinoma may appear as:
- A firm, red nodule
- A flat lesion with a scaly, crusted surface
The least common types of skin cancer include:
See one of our Dermatologists for a screening or if you notice any changes
- Kaposi sarcoma. This rare form of skin cancer develops in the skin’s blood vessels and causes red or purple patches on the skin or mucous membranes. Kaposi sarcoma mainly occurs in people with weakened immune systems, such as people with AIDS, and in people taking medications that suppress their natural immunity, such as people who’ve undergone organ transplants. Kaposi sarcoma can also occur in young men living in Africa or older men of Italian or eastern Jewish heritage.
- Merkel cell carcinoma. Merkel cell carcinoma causes firm, shiny nodules that occur on or just beneath the skin and in hair follicles. Merkel cell carcinoma is usually found on sun-exposed areas on the head, neck, arms and legs.
- Sebaceous gland carcinoma. This uncommon and aggressive cancer originates in the oil glands in the skin. Sebaceous gland carcinomas — which usually appear as hard, painless nodules — can develop anywhere, but most occur on the eyelid, where they’re frequently mistaken for other eyelid problems.
Make an appointment if you notice any changes to your skin that worry you, or if you’d like to be screened for skin cancer. Not all skin changes are skin cancer. We will investigate your skin changes to determine a cause.