Surprisingly, skin cancer can show up in areas usually hidden from the sun.
It is true that exposure to the sun plays a large part in the development of skin cancer, but that doesn’t mean all skin cancer is the result of sun exposure. As with all major diseases, there is never a simple, clear-cut answer nor one lone cause.
Here are unusual places you might find skin cancer:
It doesn’t happen often. But all three major types of skin cancer can develop on your genital areas. Squamous cell carcinoma is the type that most often found here. This type of cancer might first appear as a skin-colored or reddish bump that won’t go away.
Bob Marley died from metastatic melanoma, first seen on his toe. He thought he had a sore that wouldn’t heal. Several years later, the cancer metastasized to his brain. The soles of the feet are the most common area skin cancer begins in some people.
Palms of Your Hands
While skin cancer usually appears on skin that is thinner than that found on the palm, it can occur there. It is rare that basal and squamous cell carcinomas would appear on the palm, but it can happen. Melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer, can appear anywhere on the body.
As with skin cancer on the soles of feet, melanoma of the nail bed is usually found in darker-skinned individuals. It first appears as a dark stripe through the nail but can also appear as a red streak.
Melanoma can appear in the mouth. However, this type of cancer, also called oral melanoma, accounts for less than 1 percent of all melanomas, according to the Oral Cancer Foundation. This type of cancer usually first appears as a darker spot in the mouth and often goes unnoticed until the lesions grow and become unsightly or interfere with oral hygiene.
There are also places on your body that are exposed to the sun, but you might not pay attention to when doing a skin cancer check:
Behind your ears
When applying sunscreen, it is easy to forget behind your ears. But even if your hair covers this area, you may expose it when it gets wet or you push your hair back out of your face. Being hidden, this area could be more susceptible to sunburns and sun damage.
On your scalp
For those who are bald or have thinning hair, noticing lesions on your head is easy. For those with a full head of hair, it’s more difficult. When self-checks on your scalp are difficult, talk with your barber or hairdresser and ask them to alert you to any lesions or spots on your scalp.
Your eyes are often the most exposed part of your body and it isn’t possible to put sunscreen in your eyes. About 2,500 adults in the United States are diagnosed with Melanoma in the eye, called ocular melanoma, each year, according to the Ocular Melanoma Foundation. To keep your eyes protected, use UV-blocking sunglasses whenever you are outside.
Cracks and crevices
Skin cancer can develop anywhere on your body. You can have skin cancer behind your knees, in your armpits or even in the crack of your butt.
However, medicine is making great strides in treating skin cancer. Even so, early detection and treatment is important. During self-checks it is important to check your body, from head to foot, for any possible signs of skin cancer, including new spots or moles and moles that change in size, shape or color or are asymmetrical no matter where they appear.
For more helpful articles on detecting skin cancer:
Genital Bumps & Lumps: When to Seek Medical Attention: Palo Alto Medical Foundation
Oral Malignant Melanoma: A Silent Killer: Journal of Indian Society Periodontology
Skin Cancer Facts: American Cancer Society
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of Idiot's Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot's Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love and Essential Guide to Asperger's Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbaileyand on Facebook at eileenmbailey.
Published On: June 13, 2016