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Symptoms

Nonmelanomaskincancer may appear as a change in the skin, such as a growth, an irritation or sore that does not heal, or a change in a mole or a skin growth.

Basal cell carcinoma usually affects the head, neck, back, chest, or shoulders. The nose is the most common site. Signs of basal cell carcinoma can vary depending on the type and may include skin changes such as a:

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All potentially cancerous skin growths must be biopsied to confirm a cancer diagnosis. Depending on the suspected type of skin cancer, the biopsy techniques vary slightly but crucially. Any potential melanoma requires a surgical biopsy, in which the entire growth is removed with a scalpel if possible. A pathologist then studies the sample under a microscope to determine whether cancer cells are present. If melanoma is diagnosed, other tests may be ordered to assess the degree of cancer spread (metastasis)...

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  • Firm, pearly bump with tiny blood vessels that look spidery (telangiectasias).
  • Red, tender, flat spot that bleeds easily.
  • Small, fleshy bump with a smooth, pearly appearance, often with a depressed center.
  • Smooth, shiny bump that may look like a mole or cyst.
  • Patch of skin, especially on the face, that looks like a scar and is firm to the touch.
  • Bump that itches, bleeds, crusts over, and then repeats the cycle and has not healed in a few weeks.
  • Change in the size, shape, or color of a mole or a skin growth.

Squamous cell carcinoma usually affects the face, head, or neck. Signs of squamous cell carcinoma include any:

  • Persistent, firm, red bump on sun-exposed skin.
  • Patch of skin that feels scaly, bleeds, or develops a crust. The patch may get bigger over a period of months and form a sore.
  • Skin growth that looks like a wart.
  • Sore that does not heal or an area of thickened skin on the lower lip, especially if you smoke or use chewing tobacco or your lips are often exposed to the sun and wind.

Other conditions, such as actinic keratosis, may have symptoms similar to skin cancer. It is important to have any new or persistent skin change evaluated by your doctor.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: July 30, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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