Nonmelanoma skin cancer may appear as a change in the skin, such as a growth, an irritation or sore that does not heal, or a change in a wart or a mole.
Basal cell carcinoma usually affects the head, neck, back, chest, or shoulders. The nose is the most common site. Basal cell carcinoma occurs much more often than squamous cell carcinoma. There are several types of basal cell carcinoma, including nodular, superficial, and sclerosing (morpheaform). They look different but they all need the same treatment. Signs of basal cell carcinoma can vary depending on the type and may include skin changes such as a:
- Firm, pearly bump with tiny blood vessels in a spiderlike appearance (telangiectasias).
- Red, tender, flat spot that bleeds easily.
- Small, fleshy bump with a smooth, pearly appearance, often with a depressed center.
- Smooth, shiny bump that may look like a mole or cyst.
- Patch of skin, especially on the face, that looks like a scar and is firm to the touch.
- Bump that itches, bleeds, crusts over, and then repeats the cycle and has not healed in a few weeks.
- Change in the size, shape, or color of a wart or a mole.
Squamous cell carcinoma usually affects the face, head, or neck. Signs of squamous cell carcinoma include any:
- Persistent, firm, red bump on sun-exposed skin.
- Patch of skin that feels scaly, bleeds, or develops a crust. The patch may get bigger over a period of months and form a sore.
- Skin growth that looks like a wart.
- Sore that does not heal or an area of thickened skin on the lower lip, especially if you smoke or use chewing tobacco or your lips are often exposed to the sun and wind.
Other conditions, such as actinic keratosis, may have symptoms similar to skin cancer. It is important to have any new or persistent skin change evaluated by your doctor.