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.