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Cancers of the skin – specifically, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma – are by far the most common types of cancer.  However, when detected in early stages, skin cancer can often be effectively treated and even cured, so it’s important to regularly check your skin and promptly discuss any unusual changes with a physician.

What does skin cancer look like?

Basal cell carcinoma is a slow-growing cancer that forms in the outer layers of skin. Initially, it may appear as a pearly white bump, a black or blue lesion, a pigmented area with a slightly raised border, a red or brown patch that resembles eczema or a pink growth with an indented center. Another possible sign of basal cell carcinoma is a sore that repeatedly bleeds, oozes, and crusts over but doesn’t heal.

Squamous cell carcinoma forms when squamous cells in the top layers of the skin begin to grow uncontrollably. Usually, it appears as a red, scaly patch of skin that gradually increases in size and develops a sore. It may also resemble a domed red bump or a crusty wart-like growth. These growths may itch or burn.

Which areas of your body are most susceptible to skin cancer?

Most often, skin cancer develops in areas of the body that are regularly exposed to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun, such as the:

  1. Scalp
  2. Face
  3. Nose
  4. Tops of the ears
  5. Lips
  6. Neck
  7. Chest
  8. Arms
  9. Backs of the hands
  10. Legs

Some types of skin cancer such as melanoma, which develops in the pigment-producing cells in the skin, can also form in areas of the body that rarely or never see the light of day, including the palms, the bottoms of the feet, the lining of the mouth, the genitals and the skin underneath the fingernails and toenails. Therefore, when checking for skin cancer, it is important to thoroughly examine the entire body.

The experts in the Cutaneous Oncology Program at Moffitt Cancer Center provide skin cancer screening services with or without referrals. Request an appointment by calling 1-888-663-3488 or completing a new patient registration form online.