Facial Cancers

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     Not nice to think about as the word ‘facial’ tells all that this type of cancer is clearly visible to others. However, skin cancers are exceedingly common so there is no need to be embarrassed.

Early signs:

Skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer found on the human body. Anyone at any age can develop skin cancer, although the risk increases if someone is exposed to ultraviolet rays such as from the sun or in a tanning bed. The early signs of skin cancer can be identified at home before going to a dermatologist or physician for diagnosis. Skin cancer that occurs in the facial area should be treated immediately to prevent further spread of disease and the possibility of scarring.

  • A pearly or waxy bump
  • A flat, flesh-colored or brown scar-like lesion
  • A firm, red nodule
  • A flat lesion with a scaly, crusted surface
  • A large brownish spot with darker speckles
  • A mole that changes in color, size or feel or that bleeds
  • A small lesion with an irregular border and portions that appear red, white, blue or blue-black
  • Dark lesions on your palms, soles, fingertips or toes, or on mucous membranes lining your mouth, nose, vagina or anus.
  • Remember: any wories about any skin changes-see your doctor immediately and voice your concerns!

Types of Cancers

There are two main types of skin cancers, melanoma and keratinocyte. Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer. Melanomas are derived from melanocytes that create the pigment that color the skin, including moles. Melanomas can be found anywhere but especially on the face where sun exposure is the greatest. Melanomas can be treated if detected early but are also one of the deadliest cancers once they spread to other organs in the body.

Keratinocyte cancers are also referred to as squamous cell and basal cell cancers. Although not as aggressive as the melanoma, they can cause scarring.

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Sun-exposed areas such as the lips and ears are especially likely to develop squamous cell carcinomas.

Appearance

With squamous cell and basal cell cancers, it is important to look for any changes of appearance on the skin of the face. This could mean areas that are discolored or maybe darker than usual. It could mean areas that have formed a new blemish or mole. Raised skin areas that appear to be red, pink, translucent or shiny could also be indications of an early sign of skin cancer.

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The first sign of melanoma is often a mole that changes size, shape or color. This melanoma shows color variations and an irregular border, both of which are melanoma warning signs.

Shape

Changes of the shape of the skin including dimpling, raised areas or moles expanding in size could be an indication of an early stage of skin cancer. Any type of mole that has taken on a different shape or that is bigger than an eraser on a pencil could be an indication of a possible skin cancer. If a mole shows asymmetric qualities (one side differs from the other), there is a chance it could be cancerous. If the shape of a mole or discoloration of the skin has any type of jagged edge appearance or has spread to form a new nearby mole this should also be evaluated.

Skin Changes

Anytime there is a sore that doesn’t heal after three months, an evaluation from a family physician or dermatologist is recommended. Excessive itching, even if a mole is not present, could also indicate a skin cancer. If a mole begins to present areas that have a clear, oozing liquid forming a crusty surface, this should be evaluated by medical professionals. Areas of the skin on the face that have developed flesh colored bumps or rough spots could also be an indication of a possible basal cell or squamous cell carcinoma. Never ever be tempted to ‘pick at’ or heavily scratch at any new lumps, bumps or discolourations on your skin as you could easily aggaravate something that could be easliy remedied by your doctor or local ENT Clinic.

Treatment

Once the physician has performed a physical exam including examining the lymph nodes and other areas of skin around the facial area, she may decide to perform a skin biopsy to confirm a cancer diagnosis. For early-onset melanoma and other forms of skin cancer that are localized to one area, the mole or skin cancer will have to be removed, possibly without further treatment. For melanoma that is presumed to be widespread, further imaging tests and biopsies may need to be conducted as well as chemotherapy or radiation.

Macmillan give you a tremendous ‘run down’ of treatments available here.

Remember the golden rule, as with all possible cancers: if you are concerned – go to your doctor immediately. If he/she fobs you off and you are not happy, then go to see another one, get that 2nd opinion. It’s your body, your life & you know how you feel – don’t dilly dally. At the very least the skin specialists will be able to put your mind at rest!


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