Skin Cancer: Symptoms, Types, Pictures

Cancer builds up if the molecule present in tissue cells responsible for the encoding of genetic information, DNA, turns out to be defective and the human body won’t be able to fix the deterioration. The defective cells start to expand as well as dividing with no control. When this happens within the skin, skin cancer builds up. When the harmful cells increase in numbers, they develop a tumor. Due to the fact that skin cancer typically evolves within the outer layers of skin, the epidermis, the tumor will likely be precisely observable. As a result, the majority of skin cancers is noticeable during the early stages.

Skin cancer is a very serious problem and one of the most common types of cancer. Many people tend to ignore the warning signs when the skin is involved, or at least until it really starts to bother them. However, because the disease can be just as deadly as any other type of cancer, you should be aware of the symptoms of skin cancer so that you can know to seek medical attention.

One of the most obvious skin cancer symptoms is a change in your skin, such as a new mole or a lesion. If this suddenly appears, especially if it changes after a relatively short period of time, you should immediately see your doctor. Skin cancer will generally affect any areas on the body that are exposed to the sun, especially the face but also the hands, neck, arms, scalp, lips, ears and chest. More uncommonly, it could affect the palms of the hands, between the toes, beneath the fingernails or toenails and even the genital area.

Most often, you will notice a brown spot as symptoms, especially a raised mole or bump in the affected area. The mole may have darker speckles over its surface, and any mole that changes color or becomes larger in size or bleeds should be seen as a possible sign of skin cancer. If you notice such a skin issue, make an appointment to see a dermatologist as soon as possible. You can also consult your primary care physician, though he or she might refer you to a dermatologist or to another facility where you can have a biopsy done of the mole.

List of different types of skin cancer and a summary of their symptoms

Specifically, there are several different types of skin cancer. These include melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, sebaceous gland carcinoma, Kaposi’s sarcoma and Merkel cell carcinoma.

Picture giving an overview of the symptoms and signs of the common skin cancers and also less popular types

Squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma signs

squamous cell carcinoma pictureOne type is called squamous cell carcinoma. Squamous cell carcinoma can have its beginnings in actinic keratosis. Lesions usually appear on the face, lips, back of hands, or any area that is exposed to the sun. The symptoms typically appear as a red nodule or a scaly, crusty flat lesion.  If the lesions become more sensitive and thicker in appearance, it is a concern that it may have become a more serious squamous cell carcinoma. This type of cancer is also prevalent in those that have received transplants.

basal cell carcinoma pictureAnother type is called basal cell carcinoma. This cancer starts in the skin’s basal cells. Affected skin areas may appear in the form of brownish or flesh-colored lesions that are flat or a waxy or pearly bump. Like squamous cell carcinoma, it appears in areas that are most often exposed to the sun. However rarely does basal cell carcinoma spread to other areas of the body, and it has the tendency to growing slowly. Unfortunately once treated, basal cell carcinoma can return to the same area of the body.

Melanoma symptoms

melanoma pictureMelanoma is the most dangerous of the skin cancers but less common than either squamous or basal cell carcinoma. It is estimated that in the United Stated alone there are over 87,000 new cases of melanoma a year. Usually, it starts as a brown or black lesion on the skin that has irregular color and is asymmetric. However, it can be pink, skin-colored, or white. It can start from a mole or be mole-like in appearance.

When melanoma is detected early it has almost a high percentage of cure rate. Therefore, it is vital to be able to identify the signs of melanoma.

Often the first sign is a change in the appearance of an existing mole. The acronym ABCDE can help an individual to know and remember the melanoma signs.

A stands for asymmetrical. Each half of the mole should match. If an irregular shape is noticed it is a cause for concern.

B refers to border. The borders may look ragged or have an indistinct edge.

C stands for color. Melanomas can be red, white, black, or blue in color. If the color of the mole changes it should be checked by a health care professional.

D stands for diameter. Any skin mole that is over a ¼ inch in diameter should be checked. However, it is possible for melanomas to be smaller. If a person notices any growth in an existing mole, it should also be checked.

E stands for evolving. Any change noticed in a mole should be checked. Changes can include itching, bleeding, or a change in color.

It is important for a person to know the appearance of the moles on their body. It is suggested that a person’s moles are similar in appearance. One person’s unusual looking mole may be different from another person. Any changes should be examined by a doctor.

Melanomas can also be found in areas of the body that do not have much exposure to the sun. These are often called hidden melanomas. Areas of the body affected can include the palms of the hands, between the toes, and scalp.

One type of hidden melanoma is found under a nail. It is rare and can affect either the hands or the feet. The first sign of this melanoma is usually a brown discoloration that looks like a bruise. It is most often found in persons of darker pigment.

Another type of hidden melanoma is found in the eye. It is called ocular melanoma. It develops in the layer under the white of the eye. This type can affect the vision and can be found during an eye exam.

A person that remembers the ABCDE of melanoma can be on the alert for any changes in their body that could indicate melanoma. If one or more of the signs are noticed, it would be important to make an appointment with a health care professional.

Signs of  the less common skin cancers

Kaposi's sarcoma pictureKaposi’s sarcoma is a rare skin cancer. It forms lesions that are brown and red in color. This cancer begins to form in the cells in the blood vessels. There are three basic types of Kaposi’s sarcoma. The first is called classic. Typically this type is found in people of Middle Eastern, Jewish, or African descent. The second is called immune suppressed related. This type affects transplant patients that are taking immune suppressing medication to accept the transplanted organ. The third is called epidemic.  This type affects people who have AIDS.

Sebaceous gland carcinomaSebaceous gland carcinoma is a rare and aggressive type of skin cancer that forms in the skin’s oil glands. The symptoms appear as red nodules that can develop anywhere but most commonly in the periocular area.

Merkel cell carcinoma affects body areas that are generally sun exposed and with symptoms as shiny, firm nodules in the hair follicles or just beneath the skin.

A great misconception is that skin cancer can only afflict individuals of a certain skin tone or those who easily burn. This is not true, and the reality is that, while it most often occurs in people with darker skin complexions, it can affect anyone.

Learn more about the disease with these pictures

Skin cancers do not all appear identical. For instance, it may begin in the form of a tiny, smooth, bright, pale lump and also it may possibly show up as a rigid red lump. In some cases, the lump will bleed or grows a crust. Skin cancer may also begin in a flat, red-colored spot which is dry, scaly or rough. The pictures, images, and photos below are classified by skin cancer type and can help you identify the one that you or a loved one may be suffering from. If you notice any skin change similar to as on one of the pictures below, you need to consult your doctor immediately for full diagnosis and early treatment.

Basal cell carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma


Merkel cell carcinoma

Sebaceous gland carcinoma

Kaposi’s sarcoma