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5 Common Signs of Skin Cancer

One in five Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer before they reach the age of 70. Fortunately, with treatment, skin cancer doesn't have to prove as damaging as you might fear. With early detection, the survival rate for melanoma is 99%.

To ensure that you have the best chances of avoiding the worst outcomes, be sure to check your skin often for warning signs and early symptoms.

What are the signs of skin cancer?

While there are other warning signs, these five are the most common symptoms that cause people to seek a doctor's care.

1. Moles on Your Skin

When it comes to spotting melanoma, moles are often the key.

By checking your moles once a month using the ABCD method, you have a good chance of detection.

  • Asymmetry—One half of your mole is not like the other half.
  • Border—The mole has poorly defined or irregular borders.
  • Color—The color varies from one area to another.
  • Diameter—Melanomas are usually greater than the size of a pencil eraser.
  • Evolving—The mole is changing in size, shape, or color.

If you notice any of these issues with your moles, seek a consultation. 

2. Itchy, Reddish Patches

From time to time, we all get rashes. Whether it be poison ivy, poison oak, contact dermatitis, or simply sensitive skin, a rash isn't necessarily a sign of cancer. However, if you develop raised, reddish patches that do not go away, this could be a sign of basal cell carcinomas.

With this type of cancer, you may also experience:

  • Flat, yellow patches
  • Shiny, pearly bumps on the skin that may present as multi-colored blends of pink, brown, blues, and/or black
  • Pink growths with raised edges
  • Open sores that will not heal

See your doctor if you are experiencing any of these symptoms.

3. Lumps and Bumps

If you notice firm pink, red, or purple lumps or bumps on the skin, you could be looking at signs of Merkel Cell Carcinoma (MCC). 

MCC can start anywhere on the body and Merkel cell tumors often look like firm, pink, red, or purple lumps or bumps on the skin. They usually don't hurt, but they're fast-growing and can sometimes open up as ulcers or sores. Though these lumps and bumps aren't always painful, they do grow quickly, and since MCC is one of the more dangerous types of skin cancer, it's wise to make an appointment to have your condition checked out sooner rather than later.

4. Lesions 

Whether flat, slightly raised, or large enough to be considered bumps, lesions that develop on the legs or face and take on purple, red, or brown coloring may be a sign of Kaposi Sarcoma (KS).

First appearing as spots on the skin, these lesions are neither painful nor itchy. As a result, people sometimes put off having them checked. Considering what we know about the importance of catching skin cancer early if what we've described here sounds familiar, and be sure to make an appointment to be seen by a professional at your earliest convenience.

5. Any Unexpected Changes

The only thing certain in this world is change; however, when it comes to your skin, changes should always be viewed through the lens of suspicion.

  • New growths
  • Changes in textures
  • Discoloration
  • Swelling

All of these and more could be early warning signs that you could be at risk for skin cancer. Since many skin cancers do not cause overt pain, we tend to put off getting checked for far too long. Don't let this be said of you. 


If you have identified areas of concern on your skin, Care New England can assist you in seeking a diagnosis. 

Visit Our Cancer Care Page to Schedule a Consultation