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5 Early Symptoms of the Most Common Skin Cancer: Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma is one of the most common forms of skin cancer, with more than four million cases of basal cell carcinoma diagnosed in the United States each year. Because basal cell carcinoma is so prevalent, educating yourself on the early warning signs and doing monthly self-checks can be an easy way to ensure this type of cancer is diagnosed and treated early. In addition, understanding your risk factors for basal cell carcinoma is also important. Keep reading to learn more about the five early symptoms of the most common skin cancer, so you can recognize the symptoms and bring them to the attention of your doctor right away. 

The

first major warning sign of basal cell carcinoma is the presence of an open sore or sores that remains open for weeks, heals and then bleeds again. A persistent sore that does not fully heal is one of the most prevalent warning signs of basal cell carcinoma and should be brought to your doctor's attention right away. Reddish patches on the skin or other irritated areas occurring most frequently on the face, chest, arms, shoulders or legs are another warning sign. These patches may crust over, itch or become painful, but may also present with no pain or itching. Another early symptom of basal cell carcinoma is the presence of shiny bumps or nodules that is either pearly or clear and can be pink, red, white, tan, black or brown depending on skin tone. These bumps can sometimes be confused for regular moles, so doing monthly body checks is especially important in recognizing when these bumps or nodules occur. A pink growth on the skin may also be an early symptom of basal cell carcinoma, and these tend to have a slightly elevated, rolled border with a crusted-over indentation in the center. These growths will enlarge over time and may form tiny blood vessels on the surface. Finally, scar-like areas may develop on the skin that are white, yellow or waxy in appearance with poorly defined borders. The skin will appear taut and shiny, much like a scar. This type of warning sign may be a symptom of an invasive basal cell carcinoma that is larger than appears on the surface of the skin, and should be brought to your doctor's attention immediately. 

Since basal cell carcinoma is easily treated in the early stages, paying attention to early symptoms and warning signs is especially important. While basal cell carcinomas will very rarely affect vital organs, left untreated they can cause disfigurement, as well as permanent muscle or nerve injury. In addition, certain rare forms of basal cell carcinoma can be highly aggressive and can be lethal if not treated promptly. 

Not sure if you should talk to your doctor about early symptoms of basal cell carcinoma? Answer the following questions to find out. 

Are you experiencing one or more of the five early symptoms of basal cell carcinoma?
Has your doctor ever told you that you have risk factors for developing basal cell carcinoma or other types of skin cancer?
Do you have a history of skin cancer in your family?
Do you perform monthly body checks to look for early symptoms of skin cancer?
Have you ever had a basal cell carcinoma before?
Do you have a history of sun exposure that has left you sunburned?
Do you have fair skin?