With modern day medical advances, cancers that went undiagnosed in the past are now being diagnosed and many of them at very early stages. Prompt detection partnered with advancements in treatment has improved the chances of survival after a cancer diagnosis.
Since there are more people diagnosed with and surviving cancer than ever before, it gives the appearance that many skin lesions and swollen lymph nodes are always symptoms of cancer but often they have nothing to do with cancer. Most are benign, which means they are not cancerous.
Of course, a medical professional should check any suspicious skin lesion to make an accurate diagnosis.
Non-Cancerous Causes Of Skin Lesions
Cancer is just one of the causes of lesions on the skin, but there are many other causes that have nothing to do with melanoma. Commonly there is no need for treatment for benign skin lesion but cryotherapy, chemical peels, laser therapy, and bleaching creams containing hydroquinone are some of the options for treatment. These are some of the types of benign lesions:
- Seborrheic keratosis (senile wart) - common in older adults and usually occurs on torso or face
- Cyst – pocket of fluid, pus, or other liquid on the skin that may be infected
- Dermatofibroma – commonly found in women and usually occurs on limbs
- Lentigines – commonly found in Caucasians and usually occurs on face, neck, torso, and arms
- Eczema – dry raised sometimes itchy patches of skin
- Acrochordons (skin tags) – resembles a mole but extends from the skin
A halo nevus is one of the benign skin lesions that people may get. Like the others, rarely do they need to be removed due to cancer except for cosmetic reasons or because it may be catching on clothing.
Halo Nevus Moles On The Skin
Though moles can become cancerous, they are not because it is rare for a halo nevus lesion to be from melanoma. It is a mole that is surrounded by white or de-pigmented skin that can eventually overtake the mole causing it to disappear.
The de-pigmented skin will often return to its original color. It may take years or may never occur.
The moles may appear anywhere on the body but usually will be on the torso. It is unusual for it to be cancerous but it does occur so any suspicious halo nevus on the skin should be checked by a healthcare professional and tested. This is even more important if there are other signs or symptoms of melanoma.
Signs and Symptoms of Melanoma
A mole, lesion, or rough patch of skin is not automatically a sign of cancer of the skin. In the rare instance that it is, there often will be other signs and symptoms. These are some of the symptoms of melanoma:
- Mole that changes in texture, appearance, or color
- Swelling of the lymph nodes
- Rapid, unexplained weight loss
- Difficulty in breathing
- Irregular edges
- Dry flaky or crusty skin
A new mole or an existing mole can go through changes due to malignant cells being present. The tissue will need to be removed along with adjoining tissue that may also be cancerous. It can be done with surgery or laser and may require additional treatment afterwards. Benign skin lesions are removed the same way but may not have the tissue surrounding it removed.
Removal of Non-Cancerous Skin lesions
Though the removal of benign skin lesions is not medically necessary many people choose to do it for cosmetic reasons or because they catch on clothing. This is especially true of raised halo nevi and skin tags. When the lesion is on a prominent place like the hands or faces, it is more common for it to be removed selectively due to it causing self-consciousness. A suspicious skin patch or mole will be tested for cancerous cells, just to be safe. If any is found, the physician will want to go back in and see if the cancer has spread.
The only way to know if a skin lesion or another patch of strange skin is cancerous is to have a physician check it and do a biopsy if he or she believes it is necessary. When skin cancer is found, early detection increases the survival rate and decreases the amount of treatment necessary.