Age Spot VS Skin Cancer: Which Do You Have? (How To KNOW)

Are you constantly worried about the spots and moles on your skin?

Do you want to be sure that these spots are not signs of skin cancer?

Melanoma, or skin cancer, is one of the most common forms of cancer today, but with the right treatment at the initial stage, it can be completely cured. If you have ever tried self-examination at home, or thought of doing so, we tell you whether or not it is a good idea, and under what circumstances you may also require medical opinion.

We also share with you six unique characteristics that will help you to spot the difference between age spots and cancer spots and also share the causes for the same.

Are you taking a big risk when you self-diagnose a skin spot as either an age spot or cancer without seeking a professional medical opinion? 

One of the first ways to spot the initial signs of skin cancer is to do regular self-examination. In order to make sure that your diagnosis is correct and that you are not missing out on any signs, or worrying unnecessarily, a professional medical opinion can help.

age spot vs skin cancer
  • Doing a self-examination will help you spot symptoms at the earliest stage. When detected in the initial stage, skin cancer can be cured with the right treatment.
  • In case you do notice a new spot on your skin, or notice any changes in your existing spots, make sure to speak to your doctor about it. Don’t dismiss it as being nothing, but don’t get into panic mode either.
  • Make sure that you get yourself examined by a medical professional at least once a year.

On the other hand, what are the upsides to being aware of the difference between the two?

age spots vs skin cancer

Benefits of knowing the difference between the two:

  • You can get immediate medical care and treatment in case of a cancerous spot.
  • If it is not cancerous you won’t have to be stressed.
  • Changes to an existing spot or mole could also point to some other health conditions. Being aware of the difference will help you speak to the right specialist for the same.

Is there a way to distinguish between age spots and skin cancer yourself, at least to gain perspective before you consult a doctor?

age spot or cancer

While age spots as well as signs of skin cancer may look very similar initially, there are certain differences that will help you identify whether it is an age spot or skin cancer.

If you know the tell-tale signs, you can approach the doctor with adequate information of what you have seen on the skin. This will ensure you get medical opinion without feeling panicked.

6 Characteristics Of Age Spots 
6 Characteristics Of Skin Cancer Spots

These 6 characteristics of age spots and skin cancer spots will help you spot the difference between the two.

Age spots vs. skin cancer spots

age spots or cancer

While both skin cancer, also known as melanoma, and age spots can cause spots on the skin, they have the following differences:

1. Shape

  • An age spot can be of different shapes, but in most cases, it will look like freckles or might look like a patch of hyperpigmentation or discolouration on the skin. Sometimes, age spots can also be oval, round or irregular in their shape.
  • On the other hand, if it is a skin cancer spot, it will most likely look like a small growth of skin from the surface of the skin. It will be a spot that will seem to protrude from the surface of your skin.

2. Colour

age spot or skin cancer
  • Age spots can be of different colours, such as light brown or dark brown. In very rare cases, age spots can also be black in colour.
  • If the spot is a sign of skin cancer, it may be of light brown and even black in colour. In some cases, the spots caused by skin cancer can also be red, white or even blue in colour. Since age spots and skin cancer spots can both be brown in colour, it is better to get this tested.

3. Size

  • An age spot usually appears during the middle age. Over the years, it can gradually increase in size.
  • A spot that is caused due to skin cancer can vary in size. For instance, it may be of an asymmetrical size, where one half of the spot is not exactly the same in size as the other half. In most cases, the spots that are cancerous will be larger than 6 mm in size. These spots can change in size over the years as the condition progresses.

4. Location

  • An age spot will always remain on the surface of the skin and will not penetrate deeper into the layers of the skin. Most people get age spots on the back of their hands.
  • On the other hand, a skin cancer spot will also penetrate into the lower layers of your skin. Also, these can be present in most cases on the face, ears, neck, arms, scalp or even the back.
age spots or skin cancer

5. Age

  • Age spots are mostly a sign of aging skin. These spots are generally seen in people who are in their middle ages or are more mature in age.
  • A skin cancer spot, or a melanoma spot, can develop at any age during adulthood. It is very rare for melanoma spots to show up in small children, but in rare cases, it may affect adolescents.

6. Oozing

difference of age spot or skin cancer
  • Age spots do not ooze or bleed, even when they may grow in size.
  • Cancerous melanoma spots may sometimes crack and start bleeding, or ooze some fluid.

Are the causes of age spots and skin cancer the same or similar?

difference of age spots or skin cancer

Causes of age spots:

  • Age spots occur when your body produces an excess of the pigment known as melanin.
  • When your skin is exposed to sun rays for long, it triggers the production of melanin.
  • Skin that has been exposed to sunlight for too long will have a higher concentration of melanin, which produces age spots on the surface.
  • Regular use of tanning beds can also cause the same.

Causes of melanoma, or skin cancer spots:

causes of skin cancer
  • Some skin types are more prone to developing skin cancer spots, or melanoma spots, as compared to others.
  • Those who have a lot of moles or at least five atypical moles.
  • People who have pale skin that is more prone to sun burn than tanning.
  • Those who have brown birth marks at the time of birth.
  • Those who already have age spots, liver spots or sun spots.
  • Getting an organ transplant.
  • Family history of having melanoma.

How soon should you try to see a dermatologist after discovering a new or strange spot on your skin?

In order to be absolutely safe, it is important that you speak to your doctor or visit your dermatologist the moment you notice a new or strange spot on your skin. This will ensure that you get timely medical care and treatment in case it is a cancerous spot.


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