Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Melanoma/Skin Cancer Health Center

Select An Article
Font Size

Understanding Skin Cancer -- Symptoms

What Are the Symptoms of Skin Cancer?

If you are in a high-risk group for skin cancer or have ever been treated for some form of the disease, you should familiarize yourself with how skin cancers look. Examine your skin from head to toe every few months, using a full-length mirror and hand mirror to check your mouth, nose, scalp, palms, soles, backs of ears, genital area, and between the buttocks. Cover every inch of skin and pay special attention to moles and sites of previous skin cancer. If you find a suspicious growth, have it examined by your  dermatologist.

The general warning signs of skin cancer include:

Recommended Related to Melanoma/Skin Cancer

Melanoma/Skin Cancer Clinical Trials

Major pharmaceutical companies continually research and develop new melanoma/skin cancer drugs and treatments, which must be shown to be safe and effective before doctors can prescribe them to patients. Through clinical trials, researchers test the effects of new medications on a group of volunteers with melanoma/skin cancer. Following a strict protocol and using carefully controlled conditions, researchers evaluate the investigational drugs under development and measure the ability of the new drug...

Read the Melanoma/Skin Cancer Clinical Trials article > >

  • Any change in size, color, shape, or texture of a mole or other skin growth
  • An open or inflamed skin wound that won't heal

Melanoma, the most dangerous type of skin cancer, may appear as:

  • A change in an existing mole
  • A small, dark, multicolored spot with irregular borders -- either elevated or flat -- that may bleed and form a scab
  • A cluster of shiny, firm, dark bumps
  • A mole larger than a pencil eraser

An easy way to remember the signs of melanoma is the ABCDEs of melanoma: Asymmetry, irregular Borders, changes in Color, Diameter larger than a pencil eraser, Evolution of a mole's characteristics, be it size, shape, color, elevation, bleeding, itching,  or crusting.

Basal cell carcinoma may appear on sun-exposed skin as:

  • A pearly or flesh-colored oval bump with a rolled border, which may develop into a bleeding ulcer
  • A smooth red spot indented in the center
  • A reddish, brown, or bluish black patch of skin on the chest or back

Squamous cell carcinoma may appear on sun-exposed skin as:

  • A firm, reddish, wart-like bump that grows gradually
  • A flat spot that becomes a bleeding sore that won't heal

 

Call Your Doctor About Skin Cancer If:

  • An existing mole changes size, shape, color, or texture; or you develop a very noticeable new mole as an adult
  • A new skin growth or open sore does not heal or disappear in 6 weeks

 

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Debra Jaliman, MD on April 17, 2014
Next Article:

Today on WebMD

Woman checking out tan lines
SLIDESHOW
Cancer Fighting Foods Slideshow
SLIDESHOW
 
what is your cancer risk
HEALTH CHECK
Could Caffeine Help Fight Skin Cancer
VIDEO
 

12 Ways to Protect Your Skin from Melanoma
ARTICLE
precancerous lesions slideshow
SLIDESHOW
 
Do You Know Your Melanoma ABCs
VIDEO
15 Cancer Symptoms Men Ignore
ARTICLE
 

screening tests for men
SLIDESHOW
Vitamin D
SLIDESHOW
 
Is That Mole Skin Cancer
VIDEO
Brilliant sun rays
Quiz
 

WebMD Special Sections