Symptoms of skin cancer (non-melanoma) 

The main symptom of non-melanoma skin cancer is the appearance of a lump or discoloured patch on the skin that doesn't heal.

The lump or discoloured patch is the cancer, sometimes referred to as a tumour.

Non-melanoma skin cancer most often appears on areas of skin which are regularly exposed to the sun, such as the face, ears, hands and shoulders.

Basal cell carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) usually appears as a small red or pink lump, although it can be pearly-white or 'waxy' looking. It can also look like a red, scaly patch.

The lump slowly grows and may become crusty, bleed or develop into a painless ulcer.

Squamous cell carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) appears as a firm pink lump and may have a flat, scaly and crusted surface.

The lump is often tender to touch, bleeds easily and may develop into an ulcer.

Bowen's disease

Bowen's disease is a very early form of skin cancer, sometimes referred to as "squamous cell carcinoma in situ". It develops slowly and is easily treated. 

The main sign is a red, scaly patch on the skin which may itch. It most commonly affects elderly women and is often found on the lower leg. However, it can appear on any area of the skin.

Read more about Bowen's disease.

When to seek medical advice

If you develop a lump, lesion or skin discolouration that hasn't healed after four weeks, see your GP. While it is unlikely to be cancer, it is best to be sure.

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Page last reviewed: 08/10/2014

Next review due: 08/10/2016