Skin Cancer: Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 9/10/2019

The term skin cancer refers to a group of different malignancies that originate in cells of the skin. Skin cancers are generally thought of as melanoma skin cancers or nonmelanoma skin cancers, which include basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma in addition to less common types of tumors like Merkel cell tumors, hair and sweat gland tumors, or lymphomas of the skin. Signs of skin cancers include changes in the appearance of a mole or spot on the skin or the emergence of a new spot or lump on the skin. Skin cancers may also cause signs and symptoms such as

  • ulceration,
  • itching,
  • swelling,
  • scaling, or
  • bleeding of the skin, as well as other changes.

Causes of skin cancer

Skin cancers are believed to arise when exposure to ultraviolet light or radiation causes changes in the cells' DNA. Certain risk factors increase the risk of developing skin cancer. Exposure to ultraviolet light from sun exposure or tanning beds is a known risk factor. Other factors that increase your likelihood of developing skin cancer include exposure to radiation, including X-rays, and a weakened immune system.

Other skin cancer symptoms and signs

  • Asymmetric Mole
  • Black Spot on Skin
  • Bleeding in a Sore or Lump
  • Crusting of Skin
  • Enlarging Mole or Spot on Skin
  • Large Mole
  • Lump or Bump on Skin
  • Mole That Is Changing Color or Shape
  • Mole With Irregular Border
  • Persistent Open Sore on Skin
  • Raised Growth on Skin
  • Raised Patch of Skin
  • Rapidly Growing Mole
  • Reddened Skin Patch
  • Ulceration
  • Wart-Like Growth on Skin


Skin Cancer Symptoms, Types, Images See Slideshow

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.