Symptoms of nonmelanoma skin cancer can be difficult to pinpoint. The initial warning signs are often painless, and involve subtle visual changes to the skin. Nonmelanoma skin cancer lesions typically develop on parts of the body that are frequently exposed to the sun, such as the face, neck, shoulders and hands.
The initial warning signs of basal cell carcinoma – the most common kind of skin cancer – include:
- Small, tender, pearl-shaped bumps that have visible blood vessels
- Red, tender, flat spots that bleed easily
- Small, fleshy bumps with a depressed center
- Smooth, shiny bumps with an appearance similar to a mole
- Firm, scar-like patches of skin, especially on the face
These lesions may itch, bleed and scab. It’s common for this cycle to repeat itself over and over, without the lesion actually healing.
As with melanoma, basal cell carcinoma may also take the form of an abnormal mole. When a mole slowly changes in size, shape or color and does not revert back to its original state, this may be a symptom of malignancy.
The initial warning signs of squamous cell carcinoma – another kind of nonmelanoma skin cancer – include:
- Firm yet tender-to-the-touch bumps
- External ulcers
- Scaly, patchy skin with an affected area that gets bigger over time
- Small, raised growths that look like warts
- Thickened skin and/or mouth sores near the lower lip
Although many people develop small, noncancerous skin abnormalities that heal quickly on their own, skin cancer symptoms usually persist for weeks. If you’re experiencing any skin cancer symptoms, it’s advisable to make an appointment with a dermatologist or oncologist who specializes in skin cancer. The earlier that the symptoms are reported, the better the outcome tends to be.
At Moffitt Cancer Center, we can help you determine if a mole or lesion is skin cancer or if there is a less serious issue at hand. Whether you need a diagnosis, a second opinion or are ready to get started with a treatment plan, you can request an appointment with our skin cancer specialists by calling 1-888-MOFFITT or filling out a new patient appointment request form. No referral is required.