How Quickly Can Skin Cancer Grow?
When doctors talk about skin cancer, they often reiterate the point that it’s important to catch any potential issues early in order to have the best chance of recovery. But exactly how quickly can skin cancer grow? Is it safe to wait a week after noticing something strange on your skin? How long should you wait before deciding that a spot is just a spot?
What Is Skin Cancer?
The term ‘skin cancer’ actually encompasses a collection of different skin cancers, each with its own symptoms and potential growth rate. Some forms of skin cancer are considered to be less aggressive, such as basal cell carcinoma, while others are considered more aggressive, such as squamous cell carcinoma or malignant melanoma. “The growth rate will depend on the person and type of skin cancer,” explains Dr. Azeen Sadeghian, board certified dermatologist at Sanova Dermatology in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. “For example, some forms of skin cancer grow in a matter of weeks and others over months,” she continues.
How Do I Spot It?
Skin cancer can present in a range of ways. Some are a dark or large mole with uneven edges (what we call borders) or multiple colors, a pimple or sore that does not heal within 2-3 weeks, a scaly spot, or a tender to sore spot. “Skin cancers can present in a variety of colors, they can be dark or light, pink or brown,” shares Dr. Sadeghian. It is always best to check with your doctor as soon as possible if you’re concerned about any spot or growth on your skin.
Dermatologists have come up with an easier way to gauge if your spot is of concern with the ABC’s of Skin Cancer!
- A – Asymmetry (one half of the mole does not match the other)
- B – Border Irregular (noticeable changes along the border of the spot of concern)
- C – Color (variance in pigment within the spot)
- D – Diameter (larger than a pencil eraser)
- E – Evolving (spot is continuing to change in color, shape or size as time progresses)
“These are by no means the only defining characteristics of skin cancer, and it is possible to have a spot with one or multiple of these characteristics and be completely healthy,” Dr. Sadeghian states. The important part of this method of evaluation is to make those of us that are not dermatologists a way to gauge if something should be of concern.
Skin Cancer Detection & Treatment
When dealt with proactively and early, skin cancer is often treatable. “Checking your skin often and taking note of any changes is the best way to monitor your skin’s health,” says Dr. Sadeghian. Your dermatologist can provide you with more information on the type of skin condition you’re experiencing, whether cancerous or not, and give you a better sense of what you can expect going forward and potential treatment options.
For more information on types of skin cancer, possible symptoms and indicators of skin cancer, or to have your skin checked by one of our certified dermatologists, contact us at Sanova Dermatology today!