When people ask how to spot skin cancer, doctors often tell them to look for a dark mole with an asymmetrical shape. It may grow and change over time. It may have started as a normal mole and then gotten darker or larger. It may seem to have appeared out of nowhere.
This is good advice. You absolutely want to listen to your doctor, and you need to meet with a dermatologist as soon as possible if you think you may have skin cancer. Do not put this off. It's often easily treatable at first, but it can turn deadly if it gets ignored for too long.
However, do not fall into the trap of thinking that a dark mole is all you need to worry about. Your skin cancer could also look like:
- A dry patch of skin that looks somewhat like a scale. People often assume it really is just dry skin and they put lotion on it. Some think it is eczema. However, it could be squamous cell or basal cell skin cancer.
- A white bump that looks like wax and may even be translucent. Much of the time, people think it's a spider bite or a bug bite. They could even think it's a pimple. But it too could be squamous cell or basal cell skin cancer. On an eyelid, it could be sebaceous gland carcinoma.
- Skin discolorations that are red or purple. It may even appear blue. This is not the traditional dark brown or black, but it could be merkel cell carcinoma or kaposi sarcoma. These are rare, but that makes them especially dangerous because people don't know what to look for.
- An injury that never heals. Doctors call this a "chronic wound." This means that the spot continues to crust over and ooze. It may bleed. It could appear to get better and then get worse again. That may mean it is not an injury at all, but basal cell carcinoma.
Again, starting with the traditional "dark mole" description for skin cancer is a good place to start, and you shouldn't discount it. Just don't stop there. You can see that it takes on a lot of different forms.
What if a doctor makes a mistake?
Unfortunately, the risk is not just that you will overlook something on your own. Your doctor could as well. Maybe they tell you it's just a pimple or gives you a misdiagnosis of eczema or another skin disorder.
If this happens, it allows the condition to continue to grow worse. You need to know if you have a right to financial compensation after such a mistake.