Where are the most common places and warning signs of skin cancer?

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer, with up to 3 million cases occurring across the globe every year. It is vitally important that you are aware of the common signs and places it usually occurs so that you can catch it in the early stages. Many people think that only areas of skin that they've sun burnt will be at risk of skin cancer, but the unfortunate reality is that you can get it anywhere, though sun exposed area are the most common. This article will tell you about the 3 most common types of skin cancer and what warning signs you should be looking out for.

The most common type of skin cancer is known as basal cell carcinoma, which forms in the epidermis, which is the outermost layer of our skin. This form is most often caused by repeated, long term and intense exposure to the sun, especially if you allow your skin to get sun burnt. It appears as whitish bumps which may develop into brown or black lesions that get a crust and begin to bleed. These bumps and lesions can most often be found on the face, neck, ears, back and shoulders as these are often the areas we allow to become sun damaged. If you notice slow growing areas like these and open sores that won't heal, it is possible that you have skin cancer.

The second most common type of skin cancer is squamous cell carcinoma, which also occurs in the epidermis but is linked to our squamous cells growing out of control. Again, this kind of skin cancer is most commonly caused by repeated exposure to the sun's harmful UV rays and presents as red, scaly sores that can be very itchy. These are most likely to occur in areas that are typically exposed to the sun a lot such as the face, arms and legs - this time it's not necessarily areas that often get sun damaged but mainly areas that see a lot of sun over the course of your lifetime. Additionally, squamous cell skin cancer can more rarely occur in areas that have never been exposed to the sun at all such as the genitals, inside of the lip and the lining of the windpipe and other organs.

The third most common but most deadly variety of skin cancer is melanoma. Melanomas also grow in the epidermis, in the melanocyte cells, which produce the skins pigment. They often begin as new growths but can also develop from existing moles or other skin growths. Whilst you can increase your risk of melanoma from sun exposure, like with other skin cancers, scientists think that genetic factors play a large role in the likelihood of it occurring. For example, people with naturally darker pigmented skin are more susceptible to a certain kind of melanoma known as ALM. Melanomas can be anywhere on your body, and men and women are likely to get them in different places. Men will most commonly find them on their head, back, neck and trunk areas, whilst women will more often find melanomas on their arms and legs. Other common areas include the inside of the mouth, soles of the feet and palms of the hands.

So, to sum up, skin cancer is something you should definitely be vigilant of, as the survival rate massively increases the earlier you are are to catch it. Make sure you keep an eye on any strange patches on your skin in the areas we've mentioned, and wear sun protection clothing, sunglasses and UV hats especially if you spend a lot of time out in the sun.