If a suspicious skin lesion is painful or itches, it could be an indicator of skin cancer according to a recent study out of the Department of Dermatology at Temple University School of Medicine.
Over 3.5 million non-melanoma skin cancers are diagnosed in two million people annually in this country. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer.
"Patients sometimes have multiple lesions that are suspicious looking, and those that are itchy or painful should raise high concerns for non-melanoma skin cancers," said Dr. Gil Yosipovitch, director of the Temple Itch Center.
The study found that about 37 percent of skin cancer lesions are accompanied by itching, while 28 percent involve pain. Non-melanoma skin cancers, specifically basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, are more likely than melanoma to involve itch or pain, reported Temple News Center.
Researchers looked at the records of 238 patients with confirmed skin cancer lesions. There were about 350 skin lesions in the group. Patients answered questions about how itchy or painful the cancerous skin lesions were.
Melanoma skin lesions were reported as less itchy than basal cell or squamous cell lesions. The greater the depth of the basal or squamous cell lesion, the more itchy/painful they were.
Melanoma occurs less often than basal cell or squamous cell skin cancer, however, it is the most deadly form of skin cancer.
Pain and itch often went hand in hand reported Sciencedaily.com. They noted that, “45.6 percent of lesions associated with itch also had pain; and 60 percent of painful lesions also involved itch.”
The study, which was published in the July 23rd issue of JAMA Dermatology, shows the importance of evaluating these qualities in suspicious skin lesions.
Yosipovitch hopes the study will encourage doctors to develop a ranking scale using the symptoms of pain and/or itch as a method to determine whether patients may have skin cancer.
Pain and itch may be signs of skin cancer. ScienceDaily.com. Retrieved September 6, 2014 from
Yosipovitch, Gil et al., Association of Pain and Itch With Depth of Invasion and Inflammatory Cell Constitution in Skin Cancer. JAMA Dermatology, 2014.
Study shows that pain and itch may be signs of skin cancer. Temple University News Center. Retrieved September 6, 2014.
Painful, Itchy Patches Could Be Sign of Skin Cancer. WebMD. Retrieved September 6, 2014.
Michele is an R.N. freelance writer with a special interest in woman’s healthcare and quality of care issues. Other articles by Michele are at http://contributor.yahoo.com/user/499625/michele_blacksberg.html
Edited by Jody Smith