Skin Cancer

Skin is the body's largest organ and most directly affected by the effects of the sun.

Symptoms


Symptoms of Melanoma

Often the first sign of melanoma is a change in the shape, color, size, or feel of an existing mole. Melanomas can vary greatly in how they look; however, symptoms of melanoma include:

  • The shape of the one half of the mole does not match the other half.
  • The edges of the mole are irregular, notched, or blurred in outline.
  • Shades of black, brown, and tan are present.
  • An increase in the diameter of the mole.
  • A change in the mole’s appearance over a few weeks.

Symptoms of Basal Cell and Squamous Cell Skin Cancers

A change on the skin is the most common sign of skin cancer. Some common symptoms of basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers include:

  • A new growth
  • A sore that doesn’t heal
  • A change in an old growth

Diagnosis

If you have a change on your skin, your doctor will check the skin all over your body to determine if other unusual growths are present. If any spots appear to be suspicious, your doctor may use a hand-held skin microscope with a bright light source, to see deeper into the layers of the skin. If further testing is needed, your doctor may perform a skin biopsy, a surgical procedure to test the skin cells for cancer.

Treatment

Surgery is the most common treatment for skin cancer. Radiation and chemotherapy are also treatment options, as well as photodynamic therapy, which uses a drug along with a special light source to kill very thin, early stage basal cell or squamous cell skin cancer. 

Your care team will work with you to determine your exact course of treatment. Learn more about treatment options.