Most often the first sign of skin cancer is a change on your skin, such as a new growth, a sore that doesn’t heal or a change in an old growth.

Skin cancer can start anywhere on your body. It usually starts in areas of the skin that are exposed most often to the sun: the head, face, neck, hands, arms and legs.

Not all skin cancers look the same. Basal cell cancers often look like a bump or a little crater with a shiny or pearly surface. Squamous cell cancers are usually reddish and scaly.


Signs of skin cancer include:

  • a smooth, shiny, pale or waxy bump or crater
  • a raised, solid red bump
  • a sore that does not heal
  • a sore or bump that bleeds or develops a crust or a scab
  • pink, red or brown patches that are rough and scaly and may become itchy or tender
  • a change in the skin that starts at the site of a burn, injury or scar
  • a change in the skin that looks yellow-white when stretched
  • a scar-like change in the skin that may be white or yellow


Other health problems can cause some of the same signs. Testing is needed to make a diagnosis.

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