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Skin Cancer Symptoms


Skin cancer can affect people with all the skin tones including dark-skinned people; however light-skinned individuals are more at risk. Skin cancer develops mainly in the areas of the skin which are more exposed to the sun which include face, neck, lips, scalp, chest, hands, arms and legs in women. But it can also occur in less expected parts of the body like beneath fingernails, palms, under toenails, space between toes and genital area. A malignant skin lesion can grow over a period of time or can appear suddenly depending on the type of cancer. Skin cancer symptoms also largely depend on the type of skin cancer.


Symptoms of Skin Cancer
Basal cell carcinoma – Skin cancer symptoms for this type of cancer usually appear as a small waxy or pearly bump on the face, neck or ears.

A flesh colored flat scar like lesion can also be seen on chest or back.
Squamous cell carcinoma – This cancer may appear as a firm, red nodule on the face, neck, ears, lips, hands or arms. Another prominent skin cancer symptom for squamous cell carcinoma is a flat scaly lesion with crusted surface on face, neck, ears, arms and hands.
Melanoma – This cancer can develop on any part of the skin. It can turn the existing mole malignant or can affect the otherwise normal skin. In men symptoms of melanoma commonly appears on head, neck and trunk and in women it develops commonly on arms or legs. Some warning signs and symptoms of melanoma include –

  • Large brown spots on the body with darker speckles
  • Changes in color, size or feel in the existing moles on the body
  • Firm, dome shaped, shiny bumps located in any part of the body
  • Irregular border on small lesions and white, red or blue spots on the limbs or trunk
  • Dark lesion on fingertips, toes, palms, soles, or mucus membrane lining the nose, mouth, anus and vagina.

Some less common types of skin cancers include –
Merkel cell carcinoma – This type of cancer is rare but grows rapidly and can spread to other parts of the body. Common symptoms include shiny nodules beneath the skin and in the hair nodules. These can vary in size from 6 mm to 2 inches and may have blue, pink or red color.
Kaposi sarcoma – This serious form of skin cancer develops in the blood vessels of the skin and cause purple or red patched on the mucus membrane and skin.
Sebaceous gland carcinoma – This aggressive but uncommon form of cancer originates in the oil glands of the skin. Hard, painless nodules anywhere on the body and mainly on the eyelids are common symptoms.


Many times the skin changes can be benign, so it is important to consult a specialist when you observe any skin changes for appropriate examination.

Submitted on September 4, 2008