6 Hidden Skin Cancer Symptoms You Can't See

Skin cancer—there’s no faster mood-killer when enjoying the summer sun. That’s probably because on some level, we all know that spending ample time in the sunshine, especially without proper protection, really isn’t healthy.

But because it feels so darn good to be in the warmth of the sunshine, most of us continue to soak up the afternoon rays anyway. Which is partly why skin cancer is consistently the most common type of cancer year after year, with millions of new, non-melanoma cases diagnosed annually.

Yet another reason skin cancer is so prevalent: people dismiss it as being minor, or not life-threatening, but this can lead to a late-stage diagnosis. While skin cancer diagnosed at a late stage is still treatable, it can be much more dangerous.

So, in addition to practicing safe sun protection, the best thing you can do is to learn the early warning signs and symptoms. In addition to the ABCDE rule of skin cancer, you’ll want to remember that symptoms aren’t always just skin deep.

Here are 6 hidden signs you may be overlooking:

   1. Lumps. While skin cancer often appears as some type of bump on the surface of your skin (i.e., a mole or patch), this isn’t always the case. If you feel a lump under the surface of your skin, especially in your armpit, neck or groin, this may be a sign of skin cancer that has spread to your lymph nodes.

   2. Cramping. You may expect to have stomach cramping during that time of the month or after you eat something that doesn’t quite agree with you, but if you’re having diarrhea, constipation, cramps or pain (especially in the upper right side of your abdomen), this could be a sign of hidden melanoma that has spread.

   3. Breathing problems. Not unlike stomach pain, shortness of breath and/or a frequent cough could be the result of many common conditions—asthma, allergies, bronchitis or a cold—just to name a few. However, it could also be a sign that melanoma has spread to your lungs, but this is less likely.

   4. Aches and pains. Before you shrug off that achy joint as arthritis or overuse, it’s important to keep in mind that it could be something else, like melanoma. Often times, skin symptoms will heal over time, while spreading beneath the surface to lymph nodes and surrounding bones. Make sure to monitor unusual joint pain, especially if you don’t have a history of discomfort.

   5. Vision changes. Similar to skin symptoms, melanoma may produce early-stage symptoms in your eyes. Because of melanocytes, a specific type of cell that produces pigment, can be a primary source of skin cancer. If you notice any changes in your vision, like impairment or blurriness, this may be a warning sign of melanoma.

   6. Headaches. Yet another common symptom that could be the result anything from screen time and dehydration to stress and poor posture, persistent headaches may be a symptom of melanoma. In addition to headaches, melanoma may also lead to seizures or other cognitive problems.

On the bright side…

There’s no denying that skin cancer is scary, but the good news is: it’s preventable. That doesn’t mean you have to spend all of your time indoors, though; you can enjoy time in the great outdoors by remembering that sunscreen—even when you think you don’t need it—hats, sunglasses and shade are your best friends.

But if you notice any irregularities, whether they’re on your skin or not, it’s essential to work with your health care team. At GMC Health Park-Hamilton Mill, you’ll receive care catered to you. With a spa-like ambiance, convenient amenities and the latest treatment options, you’ll enjoy a comfortable, healing environment while you receive personalized care and services, including: primary care, OB/GYN, gastroenterology, cancer care, cardiology, orthopedics and comprehensive imagining.


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