Skin cancer can take many forms. While mostpeople know to watch out for abnormal looking moles, other symptoms may goundetected because they look like other common skin blemishes, such as a freckleor a wart. Below we highlight the types of skin cancer that can look similar toa wart and some tips for how to tell the difference.
Non-melanomaskin cancers that can look like a wart
Squamous cell carcinoma is the second mostcommon type of skin cancer. It forms when squamous cells begin to growuncontrollably in the top layers of the skin, called the epidermis. In mostcases, it is caused by repeated exposure to UV rays over time.
Squamous cell carcinoma has many symptoms,one of which is very wart-like. Squamous cell carcinoma usually first appearsas:
· a red, scaly, sometimes crustyplaque of skin that may get bigger and develop a sore
· a red, hard domed bump thatwon’t go away
· a wart-like growth that maybleed or crust
The growths may also be pink and dry andmay itch or burn. Squamous cell carcinoma typically shows up on areas of theskin that are exposed to the sun, such as the face, ears, lips, arms, legs andtops of hands. It usually develops slowly but can spread to the lymph nodes andother organs if left untreated. If caught early though, it is highly treatable.
Another rarer type of non-melanoma skincancer that can also be confused for a wart is basal cell carcinoma. It oftenappears as a small pearly bump that may sometimes resemble a wart.
Howto tell the difference
Warts are usually harmless growths causedby the human papillomavirus (HPV). They are typically removed to prevent themfrom spreading to other areas of the body, but, in most cases, they don’t havelife-threatening effects like skin cancer. The main differentiator to keep inmind is that warts are generally painless and won’t crust or bleed, while skincancer usually will. If you have a bump that is over 6 mm in size and hasn’tgone away in over six weeks, it could be a sign of cancer, especially if itcrusts or bleeds and is on the neck, face, or other areas of the body regularlyexposed to the sun.
Whenin doubt, get a biopsy
If you have any suspicions about awart-like growth on your body, go to your doctor or dermatologist immediately toget it checked out. Only a biopsy can definitively say if it is cancer or not.Stay vigilant and check your skin regularly to stay on top of any developmentsthat could be a sign of something more dangerous.