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Skin Cancer Symptoms & Diagnosis


Skin cancers are rarely painful. The most common first symptom of skin cancer is a change in the skin, such as a new growth or a sore that doesn't heal. When it starts, skin cancer may appear as:

  • A small, smooth, shiny, pale, or waxy lump
  • A firm red lump
  • A lump that bleeds or develops a crust
  • A flat, red spot that is rough, dry, or scaly

Skin cancers are found mainly on areas exposed to the sun:

  • Head
  • Face
  • Ears
  • Neck
  • Hands
  • Arms
However, skin cancer can occur anywhere.

These symptoms may also be caused by other, less serious health conditions. A person experiencing these symptoms should see a doctor if they last for more than two weeks.


The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam. If you have a growth like those listed above, your doctor may treat it in the office. This involves removing all or part of the lesion and sending it to the laboratory for a biopsy .

In cases where the growth is very large or has been present for a long time, the doctor will carefully check the lymph nodes in the area. You may also need to have more tests to find out if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Copyright © 2024 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.

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