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Skin cancer symptoms

Skin cancer symptoms include the appearance of new moles or changes to a mole, such as itching or bleeding.

Skin changes due to cancer often affect the back, legs, arms and face, but can affect anywhere on the skin.

Warning signs of skin cancer include:

  • Any change in size, colour, 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 multicoloured spot with irregular borders - either raised or flat - that may bleed and form a scab
  • A cluster of shiny, firm dark bumps
  • Having a diameter larger than 6mm (the size of a pencil rubber)

An easy way to remember the signs of melanoma is the ABCDEs of melanoma:

  • Asymmetrical
  • Irregular Borders
  • Two or more Colours or changes in colour
  • Diameter larger than 6mm (the size of a pencil rubber)
  • Elevated or Enlarged

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

  • A pearly or flesh-coloured oval bump with a rolled border, which may develop into a bleeding ulcer.
  • A smooth red spot indented in the centre.
  • 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.

Seek medical advice if:

  • An existing mole changes size, shape, colour 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 a few weeks.
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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on March 23, 2016

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