Do You Know These Signs of Skin Cancer?


You probably know that a weird mole might be skin cancer and should be checked out by a provider. But do you know these other signs of skin cancer?

  • Bleeding or weeping sores. These basal cell carcinomas, might be the most common type of skin cancer. “Basal cell carcinoma is typically found on the sun-exposed areas of the head and neck, and the sores may be oozing, crusted, and either don’t heal or heal and then come back,” says Allegan General Hospital surgeon Matthew Ralph, D.O. “The good news is that this type of skin cancer usually grows slowly and can be removed entirely, which prevents the cancer from coming back in the same place.
  • Rough, scaly spots. These might be precancerous areas. The pink-red or flesh-toned spots generally grow slowly and tend to occur more often in people who are fair-skinned. Usually found on the face, ears, backs of the hands, or arms, they may feel itchy or sore. Most of these spots do not become cancer, but some may turn into squamous cell skin cancer.
  • Bumps and growths. Small, pinkish, pearly bumps with blue, brown, or black areas could be skin cancer. Also watch out for pink growths with raised borders and lower middle areas, which might have small blood vessels spreading out like spokes on a wheel.
  • A dark band on your fingernail. Melanoma, the most dangerous type of skin cancer, is more likely to start on the torso in men and on the legs in women, but it can start anywhere, including on a fingernail. If you notice a dark band growing on or under your nail, see your provider.

Dr. Ralph encourages individuals to pay attention to their skin. “If you notice a mole, spot, or sore that seems suspicious, be sure to have it checked out by your primary care provider,” he says. “Your provider may then refer you to a surgeon like myself to have it removed, or a dermatologist.”

Face Summer Safely
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends an SPF of 30 or higher for your sunscreen. Sunscreen should be applied generously to all exposed areas 15 minutes before you head outside. Reapply every two hours. In addition to your arms and legs, remember to put sunscreen on:
  • Face, head, and ears
  • Back, chest, and abdomen
  • Front and back of neck
  • Tops of the feet

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