What are the Signs of Skin Cancer?

Neha Mittal   by Neha Mittal, MS, Biotechnology    Last updated on February 21, 2021,

what are the signs of skin cancer


Skin Cancer Signs and Symptoms

All skin cancers including melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma generally start as changes to your skin. These changes can appear as new growths or precancerous lesions, or other changes that are not cancer but may become cancer later.  You can learn here how to identify early warning signs. Skin cancer can be cured if found early and treated properly. Different types of skin cancers may show slightly different signs. It is not easy to differentiate one form of skin cancer from another. You should consult a dermatologist if you notice any suspected change or evolving marks on your skin.

Non-melanoma Skin Cancer Symptoms

An unusual skin growth that doesn't go away may be the first warning sign of a non-melanoma skin cancer. Skin cancer may appear as a rash or an irregular patch on the surface of the skin in the beginning. Sometimes, these rashes or spots may ooze or bleed. As the cancer grows, the size or shape of the visible skin may change and the cancer may grow into deeper layers.

Basal Cell Carcinomas

Basal cell carcinoma generally develops on areas that are exposed to the sun, such as your neck or face or legs or hands. Key warning signs of basal cell carcinoma are:

  • A pale patch of skin  or a waxy bump
  • Blood vessels or indentations in the center of the bump may be visible
  • A flesh-colored or brown scar-like growth
  • Smooth and pearly
  • Itchy
  • Appears as a flat, scaly and crusty red spot
  • As the cancer progresses, it may bleed or ooze
  • If it develops on the chest, it may appear as a brownish scar or lesion

Squamous Cell Carcinomas

Generally, squamous cell carcinoma occurs on areas of our body that are exposed to the sun, such as face, ears, neck, and hands. Squamous cell carcinoma may appear as:

  • A hard red nodule or lump. These nodules are generally rough on the surface, unlike the smooth appearance of a basal cell carcinoma. 
  • A lesion or growth with a scaly surface
  • The skin appears raised in the region of cancer
  • Sometimes, it bleeds


Melanoma can develop anywhere on your body. Melanoma most often develops on your face or the trunk. In women, it generally develops on the lower legs. Melanoma can occur on skin that is not even exposed to the sun. Signs of melanoma include such as:

  • A large brownish patch with darker speckles
  • Melanoma can develop as an irregular growth or mole. These moles can have rough and irregular borders and can be of different colors in the center such as red, white, blue or blue-black.
  • A mole that changes its color or size or bleeds

When Should You Meet a Doctor?

If you notice any unusual changes on your skin that doesn’t go in a month, you should consult a doctor. It is better if you to take photographs of anything unusual that happens during this time so you can compare for any changes and also show to your doctor. There are many other conditions that appear similar to skin cancer but are not cancer. Your doctor will investigate these changes to determine the right cause.

Neha Mittal

Neha Mittal completed graduation in Biotechnology from Graphics Era University, Dehradun and Masters in Biotechnology from Amity University, Noida. In the past, she worked with Sharon Biomedicine Ltd., DUKES Products Ltd., and Forest Research Institute, Dehradun as researcher in biotechnology.


Neha loves singing and dancing in leisure time. She also enjoys traveling and maintains a collection of great novels.

Read More Articles by this Author