Hollywood star Hugh Jackman has revealed his latest skin cancer scare and urged fans to be careful.
The Wolverine star has had biopsies of moles on his nose that could be basal cell carcinoma, the most common form of skin cancer with a high survival rate.
Meanwhile, melanomas can grow rapidly and lead to death if not treated early. It is responsible for only one percent of skin cancers but 80 percent of all skin cancer deaths.
The good news is that early treatment for melanomas, usually in the form of Mohs surgery to remove the cancer, is very effective. About 90 percent will survive skin cancer for five years or more after diagnosis.
DailyMail.com spoke with dermatologists to break down the early warning signs of skin cancer to help you protect yourself.
Signs of skin cancer range from benign to obvious
Hugh Jackman has another form of skin cancer. The 54-year-old Australian actor underwent two biopsies after his doctor noticed “little things” that could be basal cell carcinoma – the most common form of skin cancer.
Hugh, wearing a bandage over his nose, broke the news in a video on social media and urged his fans to prioritize sun safety.
Dermatologists follow the ABCDEs when diagnosing skin cancer. Any asymmetry, borders, color, diameter, and twist.
Most melanomas, the rarest and most serious form of skin cancer most likely to spread, are present as moles with uneven edges. They look different from common moles, which are round, brown or tan spots on the skin caused by the growth of groups of cells in the skin called melanocytes.
“If you can’t find the mole in half, if the edges don’t line up,” Dr. Nayoung Lee, a dermatologist at New York University Langone Hospital, told DailyMail.com, “it could be a melanoma.”
The irregular border of a mole, “B” in ABCDE, can also indicate skin cancer. The edges of a normal mole
The Skin Cancer Foundation advises people to look out for “ugly ducklings” — unsightly moles that are very clearly visible from the packaging all over the body.
The foundation says, “This recognition strategy is based on the concept that most normal moles on your body resemble one another, while melanomas stand out like ugly ducklings in comparison.”
Moles of uneven color
The color, a “C” in the ABCDEs, is a strong predictor of serious melanoma. Healthy moles are usually a single color, from dark brown and light brown to pink and fleshy.
Some moles become cancerous and gradually change color. Approximately 20 to 30 percent of skin cancer cases appear in existing moles.
The other 70 to 80 percent of the time, precancerous moles appear on otherwise healthy-looking skin.
But a suspicious mole often has several shades of brown, black, or brown in color, as well as pink, red, or purple spots. It becomes more vibrant as the cancer progresses, so early action is crucial. In fact, 99 percent of patients who detect and begin treatment for skin cancer early live five years or more after their diagnosis.
“Once you start having two, three or four colors combined in one mole, that should be a warning sign and it should This mole is evaluated by a board-certified dermatologist.
Moles are larger than a pea
Size matters when it comes to suspicious moles. Melanomas usually appear a little larger than a pea or pencil eraser, about six millimeters or a quarter of an inch.
Dr Makhzoumi told DailyMail.com, “Most moles if benign are smaller than a pencil eraser. If you have a mole that is larger than a pencil eraser, that in and of itself is not a warning and worrisome sign. But rather when taken together with another set of signs, Dr. Makhzoumi told DailyMail.com. This is something you want to be evaluated by a dermatologist.
Not all melanomas share the letter “D” in the ABCDEs where D means a diameter of at least six millimeters. In 2013, doctors in Queensland, Australia, treated a 38-year-old woman with invasive melanoma on her arm that measured just 1.6 millimeters in diameter.
Nor did the small precancerous moles appear uneven, which means doctors still need to watch for moles that appear darker than those around them, as was the case in the Australian woman.
The doctors said: ‘We consider it very important that this melanoma has no obvious asymmetry, although evidence of malignancy has been recognized… We believe that very small pigmented lesions with any recognizable evidence should be evaluated out for melanoma for biopsy whether or not there is unambiguous asymmetry.
Doctors should also monitor how the mole develops over time. This is the “E” in ABCDEs. Changes in the size, shape, color, or height of a spot, or any new symptoms such as bleeding, itching, or crusting, may be a warning sign of skin cancer.
Dr. Makhzoumi said: “Moles tend to develop, but the development of moles tends to shrink or disappear.
“If you have a mole that develops in that it’s growing, it’s getting darker, it’s raised, that’s really, really, the key to skin cancer,” she says.
Skin cancer grows in two stages, horizontally and vertically. The horizontal stage can last for years before the mole becomes serious and invasive, which means it spreads to the lymph nodes and organs. But at a later stage, the lesion grows vertically, at which point it becomes a tumor that has the potential to spread elsewhere in the body, which can lead to death.
Dr. Makhzoumi added, “Once a melanoma enters the vertical growth phase, it actually accelerates very quickly. So if you have a spot that suddenly starts to form a lump on it, this is very concerning for malignant melanoma.
Bleeding or scaly patches
They often appear on areas of the skin that are most exposed to the sun, such as the face and the top of the head.
A potentially precancerous squamous cell carcinoma leads to actinic keratosis which is a skin disorder that causes rough, scaly patches. The spots can sometimes bleed and become sore.
“They only feel flaky so you can feel them more than you see them,” Dr. Lee said. If one of these progresses it can become squamous. They can look kind of like pink or skin-colored bumps on your skin.
People with a history of excessive sun exposure are more likely to develop this type of skin cancer. With every bad sunburn, so does the risk of squamous cell carcinoma. Fair-skinned and light-eyed people who are more prone to sunburn are also more likely to develop SCC.
Most often, squamous cell carcinoma is curable when treated early. In fact, the survival rate is as high as 98 percent.
A bleeding ulcer may indicate another type of non-melanoma skin cancer called basal cell carcinoma which, like SCC, has a high survival rate. However, people must deal with it aggressively once they discover it.
“Depending on the location, they can grow deeper into muscles and bones, so it becomes problematic if left to grow for a long period of time,” Dr. Lee told DailyMail.com.
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of cancer in general and the most common type of skin cancer more specifically. The number of new cases in the United States exceeds 4 million each year.
“Basal cell carcinomas, we don’t even rank them because the survival rates are so good,” Dr. Lee added.
Dark spots on the genitals
Melanoma can appear as dark lesions on the mucous membranes, i.e. inside the nose, mouth, vagina, anus, or fingers and toes.
This aggressive subtype of cancer is extremely rare and causes: less than two percent For all cases of skin cancer.
Unlike other types of skin cancer, mucinous melanoma is not affected by sun exposure. About half of mucosal melanomas begin in the head and neck, usually the nose, mouth, trachea, or esophagus. Smoking, ill-fitting dentures, and eating or inhaling carcinogens increase the risk of oral sarcoma.
Most of the remaining 50 percent of melanomas begin in the anal or rectal area and female genitalia.
‘At first when it’s early, it kind of looks like a bump or white rim on the surface of the mucous membrane,’ said Dr. Lee. So when it grows, it starts to look like a sore, it can look fungal (like a fungal infection in appearance), or other things.
While doctors haven’t determined the exact cause of mucous membrane melanomas and non-melanoma cancers, some believe they are related to a viral strain of human papillomavirus (HPV).
HPV strains 16 and 18 are those considered high risk and cause the vast majority of cervical cancers. But strains 6 and 11, two of the less dangerous varieties, are more commonly associated with non-UVB-related skin cancers inside our body orifices.
“The subtypes that cause cervical cancer are not the same as those that cause skin cancer,” said Dr. Makhzoumi.
Some signs of skin cancer in the genital area mirror signs of a sexually transmitted infection, but doctors want to take home the fact that this type of cancer is not a sexually transmitted disease.
Pearly waxy bumps on the skin
Basal cell carcinoma, which usually appears on sun-exposed parts of the body such as the hands, neck, arms, and legs, and often appears as a waxy mass or growth that is small, smooth, and shiny or pale.
However, it does not always appear raised, and it can resemble a flat scar.
“You really want to look for basal cell carcinoma,” said Dr. Makhzoumi, “one really defining sign is that when you stretch out the edges, they look pearly. There is a luster to it, there is a luster to the basal cells, they do look really shiny or pearl-like.
Hugh Jackman has had several brushes with basal cell carcinoma over the years. In 2017, the Wolverine star had six skin cancers removed from his face in the space of two years.
In 2021, he had an inconclusive result after a biopsy of his face was taken, revealing the worst of all could be the common type, BCC.
Mr. Jackman attributes his susceptibility to skin cancer to growing up outdoors for much of his childhood in a family that was lax when it came to wearing sunscreen.
“I don’t think my father or mother ever bought them or made us wear them,” he said.
He added: Put some sunscreen on. You still have a great time there, okay? Please, stay safe.’