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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.

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 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 May 16, 2014

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