Generally, one of the most common signs of skin cancer is a change in the skin, particularly something growing on the skin. In addition to visible skin cancer signs, there are also a variety of different skin cancer symptoms that you may feel as well. If you notice any of these skin cancer symptoms and signs, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible, because most skin cancer is highly treatable if it is detected early. Listed below are common symptoms of the three main types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma.
Basal Cell Carcinoma Symptoms
In their early stages, basal cell carcinomas can be easily treated. Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common form of skin cancer and typically appears on areas that receive a lot of sun exposure such as the hands, arms, scalp, neck, and face. This form of skin cancer usually grows slowly and may appear as a red patch of dry skin that does not heal, a pimple that does not disappear, or a pearl-shaped lump that is flesh-colored, brown, red, or pink.
Other signs of skin cancer are a sore that returns after it bleeds and heals, a waxy-feeling scar, a flat or sunken growth, and a group of shiny pink or red growths that may be scaly or bleed easily. If you notice anything suspicious on your skin, it is recommended that you have it checked by a doctor because this form of skin cancer comes in many shapes and sizes.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma Symptoms
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is another very common form of skin cancer that develops primarily on areas that are frequently exposed to the sun. Although excessive sun is often the cause of squamous cell carcinoma, this form of skin cancer can also occur where skin has been badly burned or has been exposed to radiation or strong chemicals.
Squamous cell carcinoma usually has a reddish appearance and can grow deeply if left untreated. SCC can look like a scaly, hard, or crusty reddish bump, pearl-shaped growth, or patch. It can also manifest itself as an itchy open sore that bleeds and heals before it returns. Another frequent symptom is a scaly patch found on the lip, where the skin can become thick.
Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer, making early detection even more critical for successful treatment. Generally, melanoma appears in an existing mole or can develop as a new mole. Some of the symptoms to watch for include:
- A mole that grows, changes shape, or changes color
- Pain, itching, or bleeding in a new area on the skin
- A bruise located on the foot that does not clear up
- A brown or black streak under a nail.
When you are checking your skin for melanoma, there are a few signs to be aware of. These are considered the ABCDE’s of melanoma.
- Asymmetry (A) – One half of the mole or growth does not look like the other half.
- Border (B) – Melanoma typically has an irregular border.
- Color (C) – The color varies from one area to another.
- Diameter (D) – Melanoma is usually larger than the size of a pencil eraser (6mm).
- Evolving (E) – Watch for moles or lesions that either look different from other moles on your body or change color, size, or shape.
Signs and Symptoms of Less Common Skin Cancers
In addition to the three main types of skin cancer, there are also other less common forms of the disease with their own skin cancer symptoms and signs.
- Kaposi sarcoma – This type of skin cancer is rare and develops in the blood vessels of the skin. Kaposi sarcoma produces purple or red patches on the mucous membranes or skin. Typically, Kaposi sarcoma occurs in patients that already have a weakened immune system, such as those with AIDS, or those who are taking medications that suppress their immune system.
- Merkel cell carcinoma – This form of skin cancer produces firm, shiny nodules that are found on or just below the skin. Merkel cell carcinoma is usually located on the trunk, head, and neck.
- Sebaceous gland carcinoma – Sabaceous gland carcinoma is rare, but aggressive, and originates in the skin’s oil glands. Appearing as hard, painless nodules, sebaceous gland carcinoma is usually found on the eyelid. Often, it is mistaken for different eyelid issues.