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Photos of skin cancer

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.

basal cancer cell
basal cancer cell
basel cancer cell

Pigmented basal cell cancer

Pigmented basal cell cancers have dark areas and can look like warts or sometimes melanoma.

pigmented basal cell cancer
pigmented basal cell cancer

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.

morphoeic basal cell carinoma
morphoeic basal cell carinoma

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.

squamous cell cancer
squamous cell cancer
squamous cell cancer
squamous cell cancer on scalp
squamous cell cancer on ear

Thanks to Dr Charlotte Proby for her permission and the photography.

When to see your doctor

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.

Last reviewed: 
24 Jul 2017
  • Cancer and its management (7th Edition)
    J Tobias and D Hochhauser
    Blackwell, 2015


  • Cancer. Principles and practice of oncology (10th edition)
    VT De Vita, S Hellman and SA Rosenberg
    Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins, 2015. pp1343-1336   

Information and help

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