What are the symptoms of skin cancer on the scalp?

Anxiousannie asked...

What are the symptoms of skin cancer on the scalp?

Expert Answer

Jessica J. Krant, MD, MPH, is a board-certified dermatologist specializing in medical, cosmetic, and surgical dermatology, including Mohs micrographic skin cancer surgery. In addition to her work in private practice, Krant is assistant clinical professor of dermatology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center.

Skin cancer symptoms on the scalp can vary. I agree with everything Birder says above about the description of the lesions (BCC pink smooth, "pearly", translucent, but sometimes flat and white, scar-like and sometimes crusted or soft and bleeding. SCC red, scaly or rough, sometimes raised, sometimes flat. Melanoma dark brown or black and irregular or unexpected solitary new lesion.)

A few extra points I'd like to make are that melanoma, unfortunately, can also be red. When the pigment cells don't behave normally (because why would they in cancer?), it can really be a fooler. Also, skin cancers can be very tiny, but if you are vigilant and catch them before they would normally be recognized, that will give an excellent prognosis. Finally, it's nearly impossible to completely impossible to check your own scalp, and while hairdressers are VERY helpful, it's important to see a board-certified dermatologist at least once every year for a complete head to toe skin cancer screening. Some doctors may skip the scalp or do it fast, but make sure you pin your derm down and require a thorough and complete scalp check with your screening. It's the right thing to do. (More info at www.ArtofDermatology.com and www.AAD.org)