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Does Skin Cancer Itch?

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Itchy Mole?  Some Cases of Skin Cancer May Itch vchalup/fotolia

Skin cancer, malignant tumors that form in the tissue of the skin, can take on many shapes, sizes and colors and may present itself with different symptoms in different people. However, there are some common symptoms everyone should be aware of because anyone can get skin cancer.

With each of the three most common types of skin cancer — basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), and melanoma — itchy lesions are possible, but not likely.

It is more common for skin cancer to bleed than itch. More often you’ll find that the itchy patches are non-malignant and are something like psoriasis, eczema or ringworm.

Skin cancer is very common. It is the most diagnosed type of cancer in the United States. More than 68,000 Americans are diagnosed with melanoma, and another 48,000 are diagnosed with an early form of the disease that involves only the top layer of skin.

In addition, more than 2 million people are treated for basal cell or squamous cell skin cancer each year. Basal cell skin cancer is several times more common than squamous cell skin cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute, part of the Institutes of Health.

Basal cell carcinoma.
BCC begins in the basal cell layer of the skin. It usually occurs in places that have been in the sun. For example, the face is the most common place to find basal cell skin cancer, but it may appear on the scalp, neck, hands, and arms.

In people with fair skin, BCC is the most common type of skin cancer.

BCC often grows slowly. It may look like a:

• Reddish patch of dry skin that won’t heal
• Flesh-colored (or pink, red, or brown) pearl-shaped lump
• Pimple that just won’t clear
• Sore that bleeds, heals, and then returns
• Scar that feels waxy — may be skin-colored, white, or yellow
• Group of slow-growing, shiny pink or red growths — look like sores, often scaly and bleed easily
• Flat or sunken growth — feels hard, may be white or yellow

Squamous cell carcinoma.
This is a very common type of skin cancer. It often appears on skin that got lots of sun, such as an ear, face, bald scalp, neck, or arm.

Add a Comment7 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

"The best way to tell if you have skin cancer is to see a dermatologist" This is probably the most obnoxious thing to read when using the internet as a tool.

December 14, 2015 - 9:29am
EmpowHER Guest

I think that sometimes the doctors leap at the quickest explanation instead of spending time analyzing what they find. I think it's possible too be diagnosed with squamous cell and actually have a form of psoriasis. Particularly if you are fair complexion and have relatives who have psoriasis, even if you've never had it. I am not at all impressed with the lack of thought that dermatologists put into diagnosing. The pathologist's report that came back on my biopsy had the words "thank you" handwritten beautifully on the report. To this day I am amazed and also extremely suspicious of that biopsy. That dermatologist was to use the vernacular, "flakey" and our area is devoid sun for many months of the year but she claimed to diagnose twelve cases of skin cancer a day.

July 21, 2015 - 12:01am
EmpowHER Guest

This article should be removed as many will think that an itchy lesion is nothing to worry about. I had a basal cell carcinoma and a squamous that itched like crazy - in fact that was the ONLY symptom other than the lesion itself. Skin cancer DOES, in fact, itch and it's incredibly common. Please get any new lesions on your skin checked by your doctor - basal cell usually does not spread to organs, but it does spread under your skin. The results can be devastating and highly disfiguring.

March 29, 2015 - 6:32am
EmpowHER Guest

This is misleading. I had a mole that itched like crazy, never bled. But because all these articles claim that cancer doesn't itch, I never had it checked. Ten years I went with this itchy mole. I finally had it removed just to stop the annoyance. It came back as basal cell carcinoma. My mole also doesn't look anything like all the cancerous mole pics you see on the internet. If you have a mole that bothers you, get it checked! Don't trust the internet.

January 19, 2015 - 12:52pm
EmpowHER Guest

I was first diagnosed with malignant melanoma 12 years ago. I have had several surgeries and continue to have new spots develop. Itching is the main symptom I experience every time and my dermatologist indicates that itching is a common symptom. You should be careful about making a claim that this is not common.

June 26, 2013 - 11:59am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Thank you for letting us know about the itching. I have a spot that itches so badly at times.

January 21, 2014 - 2:49pm
EmpowHER Guest

i think yes....

October 12, 2012 - 9:03am
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