What Does Skin Cancer Look Like

Skin cancer can appear in various forms, depending on its type. Several factors that influence its appearance include individual characteristics, skin type, and sun exposure history.

Changes in the skin may not necessarily indicate that the person has skin cancer. But there are some common signs and symptoms that hint towards skin cancer. 

Types and signs of skin cancer

The skin may change when the person has developed some type of cancer, related to the skin. Some signs may help determine whether the person may have skin cancer.

Some general characteristics of the most common types of skin cancer are as follows:

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC)

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common type of skin cancer. It is highly treatable when diagnosed early stages.

It primarily affects the basal cells that are present lower layers of the epidermis, which is the outermost layer of the skin.

The likelihood of developing this type of cancer is typically high in areas of the skin that get easily exposed to the sun.

These areas include the face, neck, ears, scalp, and shoulders. However, it may occur anywhere on the body.

Appearance of Basal cell carcinoma(BCC)

A person with Basal cell carcinoma develops a pearly or waxy bump on their skin surface. The bump may appear pink, red, flesh-colored, or translucent.

The affected area may look flat, scaly, or slightly raised, which makes it resemble a stubborn scar or sore that does not heal.

The area is prone to easy bleeding. It may even crust over or form a scab, or develop into an ulcer.

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)

After Basal cell carcinoma(BCC), Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common type of skin cancer.

The cancer arises in the squamous cells, which are found in the upper layers of the outer layers of the skin, known as the epidermis.

Similar to BCC, SCC also develops in areas of the skin that get regularly exposed to the sun.

The skin areas susceptible to this type of cancer are the face, ears, neck, scalp, arms, and hands.

However, it can affect any part of the body, which may include mucous membranes and even internal organs.

Appearance of Squamous cell carcinoma(SCC)

The cumulative exposure of skin to UV rays contributes to this type of cancer. The person with SCC develops symptoms like a firm, red nodule or a flat, scaly lesion with a formation of cruston the skin.

The affected area may resemble a wart, an open sore, or a persistent, non-healing ulcer. The area may be tender to the touch and the patch can grow rapidly over time.


Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that develops in melanocytes, which are the pigment-producing cells found in the skin.

These cells give color to the skin. This cancer can appear on the skin surfaces that are most exposed to the sun.

Although it can occur in any part of the body, it can commonly appear in the parts where melanocytes are found, which include, the eyes, mucous membranes, and even internal organs.

Compared to the other types of skin cancers, such as basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC),melanoma is less common.

Early detection and timely treatment will prevent the risk of spreading cancer to other body parts.

Appearance of melanoma

Melanoma appears like a new mole or an existing mole that varies in size or diameter, color, shape, or texture. The mole may have an irregular shape and an asymmetrical border.

The area may resemble a dark spot, slightly raised above the surface, looking like an irregular patch on the skin.

The melanoma may appear different in color, such as shades of black, brown, blue, or red, within the same lesion.

Seek expert guidance

If you develop some unusual bump or lesions on your skin and suspect that it may be some type of skin cancer, then you must immediately see a healthcare provider.

Not all types of skin-related issues indicate skin cancer, but when it becomes bothersome, it is better to get tested. The earlier you get it diagnosed, the easier will be the treatment and recovery.

It is necessary to get regular skin self-examination and seek medical attention promptly in case you notice any concerning variations on your skin.

Talk to your healthcare provider, preferably a dermatologist for proper diagnosis and management. Additionally, individuals who are predisposed to the risk of skin cancer need to be more careful and receive immediate medical attention.

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