Skin cancers can look very different. They might be
- a spot or sore
- a lump
- a red or dark patch
- itchy, crusty, bleeding
The earlier a skin cancer is identified, the easier it's to treat. So it's important you visit your GP as soon as possible if you notice a change in your skin.
Looking for signs of skin cancer
Non melanoma skin cancers tend to develop most often on skin that's exposed to the sun.
To spot skin cancers early, it helps to know how your skin normally looks. That way, you'll notice any changes more easily. To check your back or other areas you can’t see easily, get your partner or a trusted friend to check. This is very important if you are regularly outside in the sun for work or leisure.
Basal cell skin cancers
There are different types of basal cell skin cancer:
- nodular basal cell cancer
- pigmented basal cell cancer
- morphoeic basal cell carcinoma
Nodular basal cell cancer
Nodular basal cell cancers look see through (translucent) and often you can see their blood vessels. Sometimes they've a sore (ulcerated) area in the centre.
Pigmented basal cell cancer
Pigmented basal cell cancers have dark areas and can look like warts or sometimes melanoma.
Morphoeic basal cell cancer
Pronounced mor-fee-ic, this type of basal cell skin cancer may look like a sore area on the skin that doesn’t heal. If you've had an area like this for more than 3 weeks, it's important to see your doctor. This type may also look like a scar or a thickened area of skin that's very slowly getting bigger.
Squamous cell skin cancers
Squamous cell skin cancer can vary in how they look. They usually occur on areas of skin exposed to the sunlight like the scalp or ear.
Thanks to Dr Charlotte Proby for her permission and the photography.
You should see your doctor if you have:
- a spot or sore that doesn't heal within 4 weeks
- a spot or sore that hurts, is itchy, crusty, scabs over, or bleeds for more than 4 weeks
- areas where the skin has broken down (an ulcer) and doesn't heal within 4 weeks, and you can't think of a reason for this change
Your doctor can decide whether you need any tests.