Skin cancer symptoms: The marks on your skin you should never ignore

Skin cancer symptoms: The marks on your skin you should never ignore


Skin cancer symptoms could easily be overlooked. But take note of any marks on your body. Early detection could save your life.

There are two main types of skin cancer: melanoma and non-melanoma.

Non-melanoma is then further divided into either squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and basal cell carcinoma (BCC).

These two sub-types of non-melanoma cancers are more common than melanoma, and their names identify the skin cells where the cancer develops.


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SCC begins in the cells lining the top of the epidermis, accounting for 20 percent of skin cancers.

And BCC starts in the cells lining at the bottom of the epidermis, accounting for about 75 percent of skin cancers.

The first sign of a non-melanoma skin cancer, according to the NHS, is the appearance of a lump or discoloured patch of skin.

This new patch on the skin persists for a few weeks, and can slowly progress over months or – sometimes – years.

Cancerous patches tend to be flat and scaly. And it’s advisable to alert the doctor (on the telephone) if the skin abnormality hasn’t healed in four weeks.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)

This type of cancer appears as a firm, pink lump with a rough or crusted surface.

At times, there can be a spiky horn sticking up from the surface too.

The lump usually feels tender to touch, can bleed easily may develop into an ulcer.

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Basal Cell Carcinoma – BCC symptoms

A cancerous skin patch tends to appear as a red, scaly patch – and, sometimes, there’s some brown and black pigments within the patch.

Alternatively, it can look like a small, shiny pink or pearly-white lump with a waxy appearance.

Overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) light is the main cause of non-melanoma cancers.

UV light can come from the sun, sunbeams and sunlamps.


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With early detection, nine out of 10 non-melanoma skin cancers are successfully cured.

This is because there’s a considerably lower risk that the cancer will spread to other parts of the body.

Treatment would require surgery to remove the cancerous tumour and some of the surrounding skin.

Other treatments may include freezing (cryotherapy), anti-cancer creams, radiotherapy or photodynamic therapy (PDT).

Unfortunately, if diagnosed with non-melanoma cancer, there’s a chance the condition may return.

To help manage this risk, regular health check-ups may be recommended and it’s important to keep an eye on any skin abnormalities.

Risk factors for developing the disease include having pale skin that burns easily and a large number of moles or freckles.

Another risk factor is taking medicine that suppresses your immune system.

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