Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer. If you know what to look for, you can spot the warning signs of skin cancer early. Detecting skin cancer early when it’s small and hasn’t spread makes it easier to treat.
Some doctors and other health professionals include a skin exam as part of a routine physical exam. Many doctors recommend checking your skin once a month. Look at your skin in front of a full-length mirror in a well-lit room. Use a handheld mirror to see hard-to-see places.
Use the “ABCDE Rule” to find common symptoms of melanoma, one of the deadliest forms of skin cancer.
Basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas both develop in areas of the body that are most exposed to the sun, such as the face, head, and neck. But they can appear anywhere.
Basal cell carcinoma: what to look out for:
Flat, hard, pale or yellow areas resemble scars
Itchy red spots
Clear, shiny, pearly bumps of pink or red color can be blue, brown or black.
Pink growths with raised edges and a lower center that may have abnormal blood vessels spread out like the spokes of a wheel
Open sores (infiltration or crusted areas) that do not heal or heal and then come back.
Squamous cell carcinoma: what to look out for:
A rough or scaly red spot that may crust over or bleed
Raised growths or clumps, sometimes with a lower part in the center
Open sores (infiltration or crusted areas) that do not heal, or that heal and then come back.
However, not all skin cancers look like these descriptions. Tell your doctor about any concerns you may have, including:
Any new points
Any spot on your body that’s different
A wound that never heals
Redness or new growth beyond the border of the mole
Color that spreads from the border of the spot to the surrounding skin
Itching, pain, or tenderness that doesn’t go away or doesn’t go away and then comes back
Changes in the surface of the mole: oozing, peeling, bleeding, lumps or bumps