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Skin Cancer Center

Skin cancer Symptoms

Early symptoms of skin cancer
Actinic keratosis, also known as a solar keratosis, is a scaly or crusty bump that arises on the skin surface. This skin lesion is the first step in the development of skin cancer, and, therefore, is considered a precancerous skin condition. Precancerous skin lesions can develop into squamous cell skin cancers. The base may be light or dark, tan, pink, red, a combination of these, or the same color as the skin. The scale or crust is horny, dry, and rough, and is often recognized by touch rather than sight. Occasionally, it itches or produces a pricking or tender sensation. They are most commonly found on the face, ears, lower arms and hands of fair-skinned people whose skin has been damaged by the sun.

  • itching lesion
  • sore that produces a pricking or tender sensation
  • sores found on the faces, ears, lower arms or hands
  • sores with a dry and rough crust
  • varied base color (light, dark, tan, pink, red, or skin colored)

Symptoms of skin cancer
A change on the skin is the most common sign of skin cancer. Cancerous skin lesions can appear suddenly or develop slowly. Skin cancers can appear anywhere on the surface of skin. Skin cancers linked to sun exposure are more likely to present on areas that are chronically or intermittently exposed to the sun. Sometimes skin cancer is painful, but usually it is not. Not all skin cancers look the same. Skin changes or symptoms to watch for include:

  • flat red spot that is rough, dry, or scaly and may become itchy or tender
  • firm, red lump
  • irregular blood vessels in or around the spot
  • oozing or crusting spots in a sore
  • a scar that appears without prior injury
  • a sore that bleeds easily
  • a sore or lump that bleeds or develops a crust or a scab
  • a sore that does not heal
  • a sore with a depressed (sunken) area in the middle
  • red or brown patch that is rough and scaly
  • small, smooth, shiny, pale, or waxy lump

Symptoms of basal cell carcinoma
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer. It is also the most easily treated and the least likely to spread. Basal cell carcinoma usually appears as one of the following:

  • a pearly or waxy bump on your face, ears or neck
  • a flat, flesh-colored or brown scar-like lesion on your chest or back

Symptoms of melanoma
Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer. It is the one responsible for most skin cancer deaths. Melanoma can develop anywhere on your body. It can develop in otherwise normal skin or in an existing mole that turns malignant. Melanoma most often appears in men on the trunk, head or neck. In women, this type of cancer usually develops on the arms or legs. Warning signs of melanoma include:

  • dark lesions on the palms, soles, fingertips and toes, or on mucous membranes lining the mouth, nose, vagina and anus
  • a large brownish spot with darker speckles located anywhere on the body
  • shiny, firm, dome-shaped bumps located anywhere on the body
  • a simple mole located anywhere on the body that changes in color, size or feel or that bleeds
  • a small lesion with an irregular border and red, white, blue or blue-black spots on the trunk or limbs

Symptoms of squamous cell carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma can be easily treated if detected early. This type of skin cancer is slightly more likely to spread than others. Most often, squamous cell carcinoma presents as one of the following:

  • a firm, red nodule on the face, lips, ears, neck, hands or arms
  • a flat lesion with a scaly, crusted surface on the face, ears, neck, hands or arms

When to seek help
Doctor recommend that people follow the A, B, C’s to determine when to seek medical evaluation and assistance:

Asymmetry - If a mole is asymmetric, seek medical attention

Border - If the border is not smooth, seek evaluation.

Color - If a mole is more than one color (red, white, or blue areas within a black or brown mole), it is time to seek medical attention.

Diameter - If the diameter is greater than 6mm (the size of an eraser on a pencil), seek evaluation.

Evolution - A mole that has evolved, or changed in size or appearance, is a definite cause for concern.

The sudden drop in survival rates for more advanced skin cancers highlights the urgency and need of early detection of skin cancer. An advantage in early detection of skin cancer is that it is right on the outside for a person to see. However, not all skin changes are indicative of cancer. The only way to know for sure is to have skin examined by your doctor or dermatologist. Continue reading the next section to learn how skin cancer may be diagnosed..

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