16. PTC Cancer Life Phases: Diagnosis

Page title (background color coded to the topic category) : PTC Cancer Life Phases: Diagnosis

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Embedded link to full (30 min to one hour) presentation by medical professional on the page topic introduced above)Embedded link to 3 to 5 minute YouTube video (usually a medical professional related to the page topic)

Follow-up action plan and next step suggestions

Resources related to this topic for further and deeper information/learning related to this topic

What are cancer symptoms? (<-- link to full article)

 3 Cancer Screenings Every Adult Should Get (<-- click to link)

Table from that article:
Cancer Screening Guidelines table

Diagnosis of skin cancers:


Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer.

Where to watch:

Basal cell carcinoma often appears on areas most exposed to the sun such as the head, face, ears, neck, upper back, hands, and arms.

What to look for:

It can look like a small, pearly, translucent bump, an area of thickened scar tissue, or a red, scaly patch. They can often bleed, crust over, but not completely heal.

Squamous Cell Cancer

While people with light skin, hair, and eyes have the greatest risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma, chronic sun exposure increases anyone's risk as well. It differs primarily from basal cell carcinoma in its ability to spread into the lymph nodes and internal organs. 

Where to watch:

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) often appears on the scalp, face, ears, lips, hands, and lower legs.

What to look for:

The early stages of squamous cell skin cancer can appear as a red, scaly, flat patch, or a scaly bump. Sometimes, rapidly growing SCCs can be quite tender to the touch. The majority of these, however, are pain-free.



Melanoma is not the most common type of skin cancer, but it is one of the most dangerous. Only about a third of melanomas arise from previously-existing moles. The rest of them arise from an otherwise normal-appearing area of skin.

Where to watch:

Melanoma can develop anywhere on the body. In men, it's most common on the chest, abdomen, or back; in women, it's most common on the lower legs.

What to look for:

Some of the warning signs for melanoma include:

  • A dark spot that appears suddenly next to or within an existing mole.
  • An existing mole changes in the color or size.
  • An existing mole begins crusting, oozing, or bleeding.
  • Pigment spreads from the border of a mole into surrounding skin.
  • A mole becomes tender, painful, or itchy.

Skin Cancer Diagnosis

If you notice a suspicious change on your skin, it's important to see a dermatologist for a skin cancer screening as soon as possible. Examining your skin on a monthly basis is the best way to catch skin cancer as early as possible. Pay attention to any changes. Get to know the pattern of your moles, scars, spots, freckles, and other marks on your skin so you can detect any changes. Early diagnosis and treatment increase your chances of curing the cancer.

The most common way to diagnose skin cancer is through a biopsy. The dermatologist will numb the area, then remove all or a portion of the suspicious area. The tissue is usually sent to a lab to be examined under a microscope by a dermatopathologist. Your doctor will want to know when you first noticed the change in your skin, your symptoms, and your history of sun exposure.

Click here  to move on to the next life phase: Treatment

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