Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Melanoma/Skin Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Painful, Itchy Patches Could Be Sign of Skin Cancer

But it's likely to be the non-melanoma type, dermatologist says

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Randy Dotinga

HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, July 23, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Painful or itchy skin lesions could be a warning sign of skin cancer, researchers report.

"Patients sometimes have multiple lesions that are suspicious looking, and those that are itchy or painful should raise high concerns for non-melanoma skin cancers," study author Dr. Gil Yosipovitch, chairman of dermatology at Temple University School of Medicine, said in a Temple University Health System news release.

Researchers looked at the medical records of 268 patients who were confirmed to have skin cancer lesions between 2010 and 2011. The patients were treated at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center and had almost 350 lesions in total.

The patients answered questions about the levels of pain and itchiness in their lesions. More than one-third of the skin cancer lesions itched, according to the study. Just under 30 percent were painful. Many people reported that their lesions were both painful and itchy.

Melanoma lesions were the least likely to be painful or itchy. Other skin cancers, especially basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, were more likely to be itchy or painful, the findings showed. Melanoma is much less common than basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers, but it is far more dangerous, according to the American Cancer Society.

"The study highlights the importance of a simple bedside evaluation for the presence and intensity of pain or itch as an easily implementable tool for clinicians in evaluating suspicious skin lesions," the study authors wrote.

Yosipovitch hopes the study will encourage the development of a ranking scale to help doctors use the symptoms of pain or itch -- or both -- to figure out whether patients have skin cancer.

The study appears in the July 23 issue of JAMA Dermatology.

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