Aa
A
A
A
Close
Skin Cancer Community
1.43k Members
Avatar universal

Please describe your experience with skin cancer.

What skin cancer looks like    The skin is the largest organ in the body. Skin cancer is the most common of all human cancers. Some form of skin cancer is diagnosed in more than 3 million people in the United States each year.Cancer occurs when normal cells undergo a transformation during which they grow abnormally and multiply without normal controls.As the cells multiply, they form a mass called a tumor. Tumors of the skin are often referred to as skin lesions.Tumors are said to be cancerous only if they are composed of malignant cells. This means that they encroach on and invade neighboring tissues because of their uncontrolled growth.Tumors may also travel to remote organs via the bloodstream or lymphatic system.This process of invading and spreading to other organs is called metastasis.Tumors overwhelm surrounding tissues by invading their space and taking the oxygen and nutrients the normal cells need to survive and function.Skin cancers are of three major types: basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), and melanoma.The vast majority of skin cancers are BCCs or SCCs. While malignant, these are unlikely to spread to other parts of the body. They may be locally disfiguring if not treated early.A small but significant number of skin cancers are malignant melanomas. Malignant melanoma is a highly aggressive cancer that tends to metastasize relatively early and aggressively, thereby spreading to other parts of the body. These cancers may be fatal if not found and treated early.Like many cancers, skin cancers start as precancerous lesions. These precancerous lesions are changes in skin that are not cancer but could become cancer over time. Medical professionals often refer to these changes as dysplasia. Some specific dysplastic changes that occur in skin are as follows:Actinic keratosis is a patch of red or brown, scaly, rough skin, which can develop into any kind of skin cancer, but most commonly precede the appearance of a squamous cell carcinoma.A nevus is a mole, and dysplastic nevi are abnormal moles. These can develop into melanoma over time.Moles (nevi) are simply growths on the skin. They are very common. Very few moles become cancer.Most people have 10-40 moles on their body.Moles can be flat or raised; some begin as flat and become raised over time.The surface is usually smooth.Moles are round or oval and no larger than ¼-inch across.Moles are usually pink, tan, brown, or the same color as the skin. Other colors are sometimes noted.An individual's moles usually look pretty much alike. A mole that looks different from the others should be examined by your healthcare professional.Dysplastic nevi are not cancer, but they can become cancer.People with dysplastic nevi often have a lot of them, perhaps as many as 100 or more.People with many dysplastic nevi are more likely to develop melanoma, either within an existing nevus or on an area of normal-appearing skin.Dysplastic nevi are usually irregular in shape, with notched or fading borders.Dysplastic nevi may be flat or raised, and the surface may be smooth or rough ("pebbly").Dysplastic nevi are often large, at least ¼-inch across or even larger.Dysplastic nevi are typically of mixed color, including pink, red, tan, and brown.Recent studies demonstrate that the number of skin cancer cases in the United States is growing at an alarming rate. Fortunately, increased awareness on the part of Americans and their healthcare professional has resulted in earlier diagnosis and improved outcomes.
84 Responses
Avatar universal
I had an oval, light brown smooth mole on my inner arm, just above my elbow. Over the last few days, it changed a lot, developing peeling and crusting, and looking a pale red colour. I saw my family doctor today, and he said it was likely a squamous or a basal call cancer, and he used liquid nitrogen on it.
Avatar universal
It started as a sore with a scab on it.  It itched and I scratched, then little blisters appeared.
Avatar universal
I had squamous cell skin cancer near the corner of my eye.  Mohs surgery was performed and I had freaked out about it before I went in.  It really was not a big deal - I wish someone would have told me that while it is surgery, it is not something to really obsess over.  Reading the Internet can just really scare you - if you can talk to someone that had it done it would really put you at ease. It took mine two tries, the second time was a little dicier than the first (since they were going a little deeper), but not as bad as I had imagined.
Avatar universal
I've had numerous basal cells. I've had Mohs surgery on my face and had to have plastic surgery 6 times after to correct the damage from surgery. I've had squamous cell on the back of my hand and had Mohs surgery they had to take the back of my hand off, but I've learned it's never going to stop. I'll have to keep on top of it. I've had probably 300 spots frozen off. Now I'm using Efudex-40. With me it is a daily thing.
Avatar universal
I was diagnosed with Merkel Cell Tumor in my right nostril. It is a very rare, aggressive form of skin cancer, and not much is known about it. I had surgery in August of 2008 where my nostril was removed, and skin was taken from inside my cheek to form a flap. After four weeks, the doctor, who is also a plastic surgeon, will form my nostril back on my right side. I was told I caught it early and took a PET scan that revealed the only "hot spot" was on my nose. Hopefully, I will be OK. It's a very scary word, cancer, and emotions run high. I used to be a sun worshiper when I was younger, and I am now 64. I could understand if the cancer was topical, but it was inside my nose. Strange! All I can say is: Be diligent about your body. Your body will tell you something is wrong. The doctor and I thought it was a wart, but it wasn't.
Avatar universal
I just had a skin cancer removed. It was squamous cell carcinoma. I have had two of these removed already over a period of years. Sun exposure is supposed to be a cause of it, but where my cancer was, no sun could hit this part of my body. It was just above the pubic hairs, and I never laid out nude.
Avatar universal
When I first heard I had skin cancer, I thought that it was all over for me. Not sure what I would do. Since I have looked it all over here I am now hopeful.
Avatar universal
My dad has skin cancer, it has progressed to the stage where the tumors have opened up and are draining.  He also has Alzheimer's and we are caring for him at home.  Hospice is involved.  I have had a hard time getting him any treatment.  He had a small skin lesion on his ear that was removed a couple of years ago.  Then a tumor appeared near that sight.  I was unable to get it removed by any doctor.  I think because hospice is involved.  I did get a doctor to do some radiation therapy which slowed down the growth for awhile.  But they seem to grow until they burst and become an open wound.  They are traveling down the side of his head, from above the ear to the neck.  We clean the wound twice a day and re-dress, but it just seems like I could do more.  ?
Avatar universal
They removed a wart from my chin. There is no mark or lump left. Now they want to cut. I will not allow this. They say I  have squamous cancer. I am 82 and have gone through colon cancer, and I feel that I don't want to go through any of this again.
Avatar universal
My dad had Merkel cancer in 2007. He was 82 and a sun lover. It all started with a "cherry" on his check, which was removed with surgery. Unfortunately, the thing came back. I was given little hope. He did well on imiquimod; the results were impressive. He recovered and did well for more than one year.
Avatar universal
I was that proverbial red headed little kid that always got sunburn. I have paid the price for that exposure through various types of skin cancer. I have had it cut out 4 times, burned twice, frozen spots hundreds of times. So far it has always been successfully removed. I still play golf most days in the summer but make sure I am wearing and SPF of 40 or above. I wish I would have done that as a teenager. Now at 61 I have a lot of spots on my hands, face, neck and ears. Prevention is a lot easier to deal with.
Avatar universal
I just had MOHs surgery on my nose for basal cell carcinoma with Squamous Cell Carcinoma running over my nose and down over my cheek. It has been a very grueling experience. I have been told that my cancer has been removed, and I have a greater than 98 percent success rate. I am fortunate that my doctor is very good at what he does, and I am told that although my recovery will take 6 months to a year, the scarring will be minimal and the results will be very good. I am 45 years old and have very fair skin. I have always been careful about the sun because I burn very easily. I also live in Southern California. I pray this is the last time I will have to deal with skin cancer.
Avatar universal
I was diagnosed with squamous cell skin cancer yesterday. Five weeks ago, I spent a week in Florida. Only two of those days were warm enough to wear short sleeves. While I was there, I noticed a spot on my arm that got red and irritated looking. After I got home, I called the dermatologist and saw him three weeks later. By then the area got bigger and part of the top formed a scab, which fell off and created a hole that bled.  The dermatologist called me yesterday and said it was a small squamous cell skin cancer, and since it was removed, this is probably the only treatment. I have another appointment in two and a half months for a follow-up. I had a melanoma on my thigh six years ago. I had a wide excision and follow-up with blood work and chest X-rays for five years. I am very fair (100% Irish) and got a lot of sunburns when I was a kid.  I would just like to encourage people to not ignore anything on their skin because the sooner it is removed, the better the outcome.  And I am still shocked at how quickly this came on and that it is cancer. It is scary to hear the word cancer in your diagnosis, and it does help to talk to other people who have gone through the same thing. I'm happy to report that I'm doing well and am encouraged that this new skin cancer was caught early.
Avatar universal
I wish we could get young people to realize how dangerous all the sunbathing is, whether indoor or outdoor.  I wish I had known the statistic for fair-skinned people when I was younger and lying in a tanning bed. I try to talk to people about the dangers, but much like I was, they are more interested in their appearance for now than what is a possibility for their future.
Avatar universal
My doctor treated my squamous cell insitu skin cancers on my legs and arms by scrapping and burning them.  This method is not mentioned in your article.  Is it an appropriate treatment option?
Avatar universal
I had squamous cell carcinoma on my left ear. Interestingly, it is the side of my face exposed to the sun while driving. I live in Southern California spent extended time in the sun while sailing, biking, hiking during my life. I am 63 years old. It started out, in October, as a small, rough patch of skin on my upper ear. I would scratch off the "scale" and went weeks without noticing anything. Every time it would reappear, only a little worse. In January I noticed a bump which should have inspired me to see my dermatologist considering the fact that I had previously had several basal cel carcinomas removed over the previous 10 years. My first was when I was around 52. It was on my right forearm. Soon the tumor began growing rapidly and I knew I was in trouble.  After contacting my dermatologist I scheduled surgery to have it removed. I had waited too long. About one third of the middle of my ear had to be removed including the cartilage. This resulted in having a plastic surgeon reconstruct the ear. The ear is smaller than the other and slightly deformed. Thankfully it did not spread to other parts of my body. I am convinced that early detection and seeking early intervention is the key to staying healthy.
Avatar universal
My husband was in Vietnam 2 times for extended periods of time when agent orange was being sprayed. He had a very aggressive form of squamous cell cancer, and his son has CLL (LEUKEMIA). He died from the cancer which spread to trachea, larynx neck, and chest.
Avatar universal
I am a 53 year old woman. Being blonde and blue-eyed, I have very light skin. In my younger years, I played and worked in the sun a lot. I would describe my use of sunscreen as sporadic.     My mother had skin cancers throughout her life; she had several incidents of squamous cell carcinoma. At least one time, she had a melanoma (on her nose).       Recently, I tripped on some metal stairs and injured both of my shins. As they healed, they both produced hard and irregular scar tissue. The one on my left leg was painful to the touch, red, and had a raised "bump." So, I made an appointment with my doctor.  After examining the spot on the left shin, he said, "This looks like a skin cancer and will probably have to be removed surgically." He referred me to a dermatologist. The dermatologist took biopsies of both spots and, sure enough, the lab report showed a squamous cell carcinoma on the left shin and a pre-cancer. (I can't remember the name).  I just made appointments for the Mohs procedure on the left and a scrape and burn on the right.
Avatar universal
I had a lesion that appeared as a small scab. That would not heal. This actually went on for some time. Would seem to heal then start to bleed again. I went to get it checked out. I had a biopsy taken and it was BCC. The treatment was to have it cut out. It was just in the initial stage. Just on the surface. The rare part is that is was on my navel located right at the edge. How it got there is still a mystery. I really don't sunbathe. And only did the shirtless thing was when I was like 10 years old. This occurred when I was 47. I'm a Black male.
Avatar universal
I have basal carcinoma. A biopsy showed this. The cancer is just under my left eye close to my nose.
Avatar universal
I was diagnosed with squamous cell skin cancer yesterday. Five weeks ago, I spent a week in Florida. Only two of those days were warm enough to wear short sleeves. While I was there, I noticed a spot on my arm that got red and irritated looking. After I got home, I called the dermatologist and saw him three weeks later. By then the area got bigger and part of the top formed a scab, which fell off and created a hole that bled.  The dermatologist called me yesterday and said it was a small squamous cell skin cancer, and since it was removed, this is probably the only treatment. I have another appointment in two and a half months for a follow-up. I had a melanoma on my thigh six years ago. I had a wide excision and follow-up with blood work and chest X-rays for five years. I am very fair (100% Irish) and got a lot of sunburns when I was a kid.  I would just like to encourage people to not ignore anything on their skin because the sooner it is removed, the better the outcome.  And I am still shocked at how quickly this came on and that it is cancer. It is scary to hear the word cancer in your diagnosis, and it does help to talk to other people who have gone through the same thing. I'm happy to report that I'm doing well and am encouraged that this new skin cancer was caught early.
Avatar universal
I am a 53 year old woman. Being blonde and blue-eyed, I have very light skin. In my younger years, I played and worked in the sun a lot. I would describe my use of sunscreen as sporadic.   My mother had skin cancers throughout her life; she had several incidents of squamous cell carcinoma. At least one time, she had a melanoma (on her nose).     Recently, I tripped on some metal stairs and injured both of my shins. As they healed, they both produced hard and irregular scar tissue. The one on my left leg was painful to the touch, red, and had a raised "bump." So, I made an appointment with my doctor.  After examining the spot on the left shin, he said, "This looks like a skin cancer and will probably have to be removed surgically." He referred me to a dermatologist. The dermatologist took biopsies of both spots and, sure enough, the lab report showed a squamous cell carcinoma on the left shin and a pre-cancer. (I can't remember the name).  I just made appointments for the Mohs procedure on the left and a scrape and burn on the right.
Avatar universal
My experience with malignant melanoma is 12 years long.  I have a description of my experience which I would be glad to post, if it could be of help to other searching patients. I had 14 tumors last year and am doing very well right now with a "stable disease" as my oncologist worded it last week after MRI & complete CT series.  I am on my 10th round of chemo right now and doing very well!
Avatar universal
My best friend died four days ago of melanoma skin cancer. It started as a mole on his back that was checked and found to be stage 4. It along with 3 lymph nodes were removed but his follow up care was sporadic at best. Two years later what he thought was a cold then lung infection was the beginning of his final battle that lasted less than two months. He went very quickly at the end BUT his story should be a book on why follow up care is so very important.
Have an Answer?
Didn't find the answer you were looking for?
Ask a question
Popular Resources
Doctors argue for legislation to curb this dangerous teen trend in the latest Missouri Medicine report.
From freckles to fungus, skin and nail problems can be stressful. Dermatologists tell us how to remedy common crises.
Learn the 5 warning signs of skin cancer
See our picks for the best buys and must-have ingredients to protect your skin
Diet and digestion have more to do with cancer prevention than you may realize
For people with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), the COVID-19 pandemic can be particularly challenging.