As a person’s age increases, some changes do happen in a person. For example, the bones and muscles of a person become weak, and organ systems in a person become slower. Similarly, many spots start appearing on people’s faces as they age. These are also called sun spots. You might look at them and wonder if they are just age spots on face or cancer. But the main question is how one determines whether a spot results from age or cancer symptoms. You must know specific differences to identify age spots and moles. As the person gets older, like many other diseases, the risk of skin cancer also increases. So, knowing different ways of protecting your skin from this fatal disease will serve your best interest. All that and more are discussed in the following article, so keep reading to figure it out.
Are you at risk?
Skin cancer may not seem as threatening to people as other forms of cancer, like lung cancer, colon cancer, or breast cancer, because there is not much discourse about it, especially among the male population. However, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, it is the most common form of cancer; almost 9,500 people are diagnosed daily with skin cancer.
Everyone can develop skin cancer, but some people are more at risk of developing this disease than others. Here are some common factors that increase your risk of skin cancer.
- Fair skin
- Family history of skin cancer
- A large number of moles
- A person who gets skin burns or skin rashes easily
- Blond or red hair
- Older age
- A personal history of skin cancer
- Having a job that requires you to spend more time outdoors
It is important to note that age spots also usually occur in the skin areas more exposed to the sun. So, you can very easily mistake age spots for cancer. Here, knowing the difference in appearance between age spots and cancer will come in handy as it will help you determine whether the spots on your skin are age spots on face or cancer.
One of the primary ways to figure out the difference between age spots on face or cancer is by comparing their appearance. Age spots usually start appearing at the onset of 50 years old and are very light in color. Their color ranges from tan to light brown and usually appears on the skin areas most exposed to the sun. These are called Lentigines.
Another type of age spot is Seborrheic Keratosis. They are scaly and wart-like, and their color ranges from light brown to dark brown or black, but these are not warts or skin cancer.
On the other hand, the skin cancer spots may initially resemble Lentigines or Sebhorric Keratosis. However, Melanomas are more extensive and darker than age spots. They usually grow quickly in size, and the color may change to a dark brown or black too. It also has an irregular border, and it causes pain.
You should visit a dermatologist if you observe an abnormal spot on your skin that is irregular in size, becoming enlarged, and darkening.
What to do?
If you detect a spot on your skin and cannot figure out whether or not age spots on face or cancer, you can follow a guide called ABCDE to examine it more thoroughly.
- Asymmetry means that both sides of a spot or a mole are unequal — one side of the mole is bigger than the other.
- Borders mean the age spot edges are ragged, blurred, or irregular.
- Color implies that these spots’ color may vary from brown to black. In addition, sometimes the moles or spots appear in pink, red, or white colors.
- Diameter means that the spot or mole is usually larger than 6mm. But sometimes it can be smaller in size too.
- Evolving, such as changing size, color, or shape.
If you have a skin spot that suspiciously looks like skin cancer, then you should get it checked by a dermatologist. The dermatologist will perform a full-body screening before making any diagnosis. Remember that skin cancer in earlier stages is easily treatable. But, because skin cancer spreads quickly, it may become difficult to stop its growth later. This can have fatal consequences for the person. So, the earlier you get yourself properly examined, the better it is for your health.
Research has established that exposure to UV light is one of the most common causes of skin cancer. However, it is also easily preventable, so taking precautionary measures will help you avoid developing skin cancer. Following are some steps you can take to ensure the safety of your skin.
- While going out, wear sunscreen of at least SPF 30 or higher. This will protect your skin from absorbing dangerous UV radiation.
- Wear protective clothing outdoors; this includes loose full-sleeved shirts, sunglasses, and wide-brimmed hats.
- Avoid going outside when the sunlight is the strongest, i.e., from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Going out during these hours can maximize the chances of getting sunburned and skin cancer, especially in older adults.
- If you need to go out, do the above steps or take an umbrella with you.
- You can also apply UV block films on the windows in the home.
Age spots are common amongst older people; usually, it is a harmless condition that people live with. People like to get skin treatment to lighten those spots, but they do not impact health otherwise. Skin cancer is another territory altogether. It is a fatal disease that, if not treated at the initial stage, will end up harming the patient in more than one way. So, if you see any suspicious spots on your skin, do a self-checkup or pay a visit to your dermatologist. This will help you determine whether or not your skin spots are age spots on face or cancer.
Are dark-skinned people also prone to developing skin cancer?
Yes, skin cancer can affect anyone regardless of their color. Even brown or dark-skinned people can get skin cancer.
Is it easier to determine if the spots are age spots on the face or cancer in dark-skinned people?
No, it is more difficult to diagnose skin cancer in dark-skinned people as the spots occur in areas with less pigmentation. So, they may face difficulty in determining whether the spots on their skin are age spots on face or cancer.
After how many years should a person get regular checkups from a dermatologist?
You should visit your dermatologist for a regular checkup at least once a year. Your skin can change significantly in a year, and regular dermatologist visits can help you avoid any significant problems. They can also provide you with valuable advice on how to manage your skin.
Can age spots turn into skin cancer?
No, typically, the age spot is harmless on your skin and won’t turn cancerous.