A new study out of Temple University School of Medicine has found that simply asking a patient if they’ve experienced skin itching or pain could help them improve diagnoses of skin cancer.
According to the research, about 36.9 percent of skin cancer lesions are linked to itching, and 28.2 percent involve pain. In addition, non-melanoma skin lesions in particular were more likely to be accompanied with itching and pain. “The study highlights the importance of a simple bedside evaluation for the presence and intensity of pain or itch as an easily implementable tool for clinicians in evaluating suspicious skin lesions,” the study authors write.
Skin cancers like melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and basal cell carcinoma often start out as strange-looking skin lesions. If they’re itchy or painful, it can help patients and doctors better evaluate whether they’re at risk for skin 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,” Dr. Yosipovitch, Director of the Temple Itch Center, said in a press release.
The researchers also found that itching was most prevalent in squamous cell carcinoma, followed by basal cell carcinoma and melanoma. Pain was also most prevalent in squamous cell carcinoma; in addition, pain and itch often occurred together. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S., and it’s treatable and curable if found early.
As a result of his research, Yosipovitch hopes that dermatologists will start using a ranking scale for pain and itching when evaluating their patients who have suspicious-looking skin lesions. Being aware of suspicious skin lesions can help you protect yourself from skin cancer and catch any potential signs early enough for them to be treated and cured.