Non-melanoma skin cancer

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Signs and symptoms of non-melanoma skin cancer

Non-melanoma skin cancer usually starts as an abnormal area or change on any part of the skin. How non-melanoma skin cancer looks often depends on the type of cancer. Other health conditions can also look like non-melanoma skin cancer. See your doctor if you have any changes on your skin.

The following are common signs and symptoms of basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), the most common types of non-melanoma skin cancer.

Basal cell carcinoma usually develops on areas of skin exposed to the sun, especially the head, face and neck. It can also develop on the central part of the body (trunk). BCC may appear on the skin as:

  • a sore that doesn’t heal or comes back after healing
  • pale white or yellow flat areas that look like scars
  • raised and scaly red patches
  • small, smooth and shiny lumps that are pearly white, pink or red
  • a pink growth with raised edges and indents in the centre
  • a growth that has small blood vessels on the surface
  • a sore that bleeds
  • a growth or area that is itchy

Squamous cell carcinoma usually develops on areas of skin exposed to the sun, but it can also be found on the skin around the genitals and anus. It can occur on the skin of scars, sores, ulcers and burns. SCC may appear on the skin as:

  • a sore that doesn’t heal or comes back after healing
  • rough or scaly red patches with irregular borders
  • raised lumps that indent in the centre
  • a growth that looks like a wart
  • a sore that is crusty or bleeds easily
  • a growth or area that is itchy, irritated or sore

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