Skin cancer remains the most common type of cancer in the U.S. with current estimates suggesting that roughly one in five people in the country will get some type in their lifetime. While that can seem concerning, not all forms of skin cancer are malignant. Learn more about benign skin cancer below.
Benign vs. Malignant Skin Cancer
Skin cancer refers to any cancer affecting skin cells and includes melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma. As these cells continue to grow rapidly, they form into masses or lesions, also known as tumors.
The main determining factors of whether a tumor is benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous) are its ability to grow and its rate of growth. Benign tumors do not grow or spread to neighboring tissues or to other areas in the body (metastasis), or they grow at such a slow rate that metastasis is highly unlikely. However, malignant tumors grow at a fast rate and can easily metastasize. In the case of malignant tumors, you may want to consider a skin cancer natural treatment to help with the metastasizing.
Types of Benign Skin Tumors
While skin tumors may be common, most are benign, harmless, and rarely develop into malignant skin cancer. The most common benign skin tumors include:
- Warts – Warts are rough benign skin growths that are usually caused by viruses, particularly certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV).
- Most moles and birthmarks
- Seborrheic keratoses – Seborrheic keratoses, also known as stucco keratoses, appear as tan, brown, or dark spots that are raised, have a waxy texture, or potentially rough and crumbly, especially when they develop on the legs.
- Lipomas – Lipomas are soft tumors composed of healthy fat cells appearing in an abnormal location. Lipomas usually develop from a traumatic injury.
- Hemangiomas – Better known as strawberry spots, hemangiomas are benign skin growths composed of excess blood vessels on the skin.
- Dermatofibromas – Dermatofibromas are benign growths composed of scar tissue that has formed from acne lesions or bug bites.
Identifying Moles and Melanomas
While benign skin tumors and growths rarely become cancerous, some moles can turn into melanomas. This occurs over a long stretch of time, but you can visually identify moles that may be growing into melanomas. Here are some tips for identifying skin cancer from your moles:
- While benign moles are uniformly round, melanomas are often asymmetrical in shape.
- Benign moles are also uniform in color. Some of the first signs of melanoma with moles are that your moles will appear more uneven in color, appearing in varying shades of black, tan, brown, or even red or blue.
- Melanomas can come in any size, but they are usually larger than six millimeters in diameter.
- The surrounding edges of melanoma appear ragged or blurry. Moles have a smooth, solid border.
The most common sign of a mole becoming cancerous is a noticeable change in its size, color, or shape. A mole that has become cancerous will also feel rough or otherwise change in texture.
The only sure way to diagnose whether a mole is becoming cancerous is to see your doctor or dermatologist.
Preventing Skin Cancer
The exact root of skin cancer is still not well known, but most experts know that prolonged UV radiation exposure can damage skin cells and spur the abnormal, unregulated growth of those cells. To minimize the risk of skin cancer, consider limiting your direct exposure to UV radiation. Other prevention tips may include:
- Applying a broad-spectrum sunblock of SPF 30 or higher daily
- Avoiding tanning outdoors and tanning beds
- Avoiding extended outdoor activities during peak sunlight hours (usually, 10 am to 4 pm)
- Seeking shade
- Protecting your skin from sun exposure with clothing, sunglasses, and hats
This particularly applies to fair-skinned people as a lack of melanin means less natural protection from sun exposure, which can lead to sun-damaged skin.
Find Support in Professionals
Benign skin tumors are generally nothing to worry about, but if you are worried about any atypical moles or other growths on your skin, consider consulting your doctor. A professional will be able to help you determine whether it’s just a wart or skin cancer. The only sure way to identify benign or malignant skin cancer is to receive a professional diagnosis. Thankfully, skin cancer is highly treatable, especially when it is caught early.
If you do find that one of those atypical moles or skin growths is malignant and that you have some type of skin cancer, you might wonder can skin cancer heal on its own? While it is possible, skin cancer can also metastasize which is why we recommend that if you are diagnosed with skin cancer, you should contact our holistic cancer treatment center. Here, at Immunity Therapy Center, we want to support you through the treatment process, which is why unique attention to your cancer is a key part of our treatment program. For more information, learn about our facility here.