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Can Skin Cancer Spots Be Painful

A Sore That Doesn’t Heal

Painful, Precancerous Skin Lesions

Many skin cancers are first dismissed as being due to a bug bite, minor injury, or irritation, but become more obvious when they don’t go away over time. If you notice a sore on your skin that refuses to heal, even if it seems to be healing but then reappears, talk to your healthcare provider. In general, any skin change that hasn’t resolved on its own over a period of two weeks should be evaluated.

What Are The Abcdefs

  • A stands for asymmetry. If you drew a line down the middle of the spot, one half would not be the same shape as the other half.
  • B stands for border irregularity. The edges of the area are not sharp and clear, but ragged and different in areas of the periphery.
  • C stands for color variation in the lesion. An abnormal mole or spot contains multiple different colors, ranging from tan, brown or black to white, red or even blue. A normal pigment cell birthmark or mole usually is uniformly colored or has two shades of a color arranged regularly, one shade in the center and one on the periphery symmetrically.
  • D stands for increased diameter. The abnormal spot is wider than the top of a pencil eraser more than 6 mm in diameter.
  • E stands for evolution. Over weeks or months, the spot has grown, changed shape or color, or changed in texture or internal structure.
  • F is for “funny or funky,” says Dr. Paragh. ” ‘F’ really stands for the ugly duckling sign, which tells you to watch out for anything that looks very different from anything else on your skin, he adds. Sometimes that can help you catch problem spots a lot earlier than you might be able to otherwise.” This highlights the importance of considering lesions which look very different from other lesions, even if they do not fulfil the above criteria.

What is melanoma?

Signs That Your Cancer Has Spread

Melanoma can spread to other parts of your body, including your lymph nodes, brain, liver, and lungs. Your symptoms can give clues to where the cancer has spread.

Cancer that has spread beyond the original part of your body where it began is called metastatic cancer. General symptoms of metastatic skin cancer can include:

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Are All Moles Cancerous

Most moles are not cancerous. Some moles are present at birth, others develop up to about age 40. Most adults have between 10 and 40 moles.

In rare cases, a mole can turn into melanoma. If you have more than 50 moles, you have an increased chance of developing melanoma.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Your skin is the largest organ in your body. It needs as much attention as any other health concern. What may seem like an innocent cosmetic imperfection, may not be. Performing regular skin self-checks is important for everyone and is especially important if you are a person at increased risk of skin cancer. Skin cancer is also color-blind. If you are a person of color, skin cancer can happen to you. Check your skin every month for any changes in skin spots or any new skin growths. Consider taking skin selfies so you can easily see if spots change over time. If youre a person of color, be sure to check areas more prone to cancer development, such as the palms of your hands, soles of your feet, between your toes, your genital area and under your nails. Takes steps to protect your skin. Always wear sunscreen with SPF of at least 30 every day of the year. Wear UV-A/UV-B protective sunglasses, wide-brimmed hats and long-sleeve shirts and pants. See your dermatologist at least once a year for a professional skin check.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 11/19/2021.

References

What Are Skin Cancers Of The Feet

Melanoma

Skin cancer can develop anywhere on the body, including in the lower extremities. Skin cancers of the feet have several features in common. Most are painless, and often there is a history of recurrent cracking, bleeding, or ulceration. Frequently, individuals discover their skin cancer after unrelated ailments near the affected site.

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Melanomas That Could Be Mistaken For A Common Skin Problem

Melanoma that looks like a bruise

Melanoma can develop anywhere on the skin, including the bottom of the foot, where it can look like a bruise as shown here.

Melanoma that looks like a cyst

This reddish nodule looks a lot like a cyst, but testing proved that it was a melanoma.

Dark spot

In people of African descent, melanoma tends to develop on the palm, bottom of the foot, or under or around a nail.

Did you spot the asymmetry, uneven border, varied color, and diameter larger than that of a pencil eraser?

Dark line beneath a nail

Melanoma can develop under a fingernail or toenail, looking like a brown line as shown here.

While this line is thin, some are much thicker. The lines can also be much darker.

Treatment For Cancer Of The Middle Ear Inner Ear And Ear Canal

The primary treatments for cancer starting in the inner and middle ear and the ear canal are radiation therapy and surgery. You may also receive chemotherapy depending upon your cancer stage.

The amount and type of surgery that you will receive depends on the location of the cancer and whether it has spread into nearby tissues. The surgeon may remove the following structures as well:

  • The ear canal
  • The temporal bone
  • The inner ear

In rare cases, the surgeon may remove your facial nerve. They may also remove the salivary glands and/or neck lymph nodes on the affected side.

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What Are The Symptoms Of Squamous Cell Skin Cancer Of The Head And Neck

Squamous cell skin cancers usually present as an abnormal growth on the skin or lip. The growth may have the appearance of a wart, crusty spot, ulcer, mole or a sore that does not heal. It may or may not bleed and can be painful. If you have a preexisting mole, any changes in the characteristics of this spot such as a raised or irregular border, irregular shape, change in color, increase in size, itching or bleeding are warning signs. Pain and nerve weakness are concerning for cancer that has spread. Sometimes a lump in the neck can be the only presenting sign of skin cancer that has spread to lymph nodes, particularly when there is a history of previous skin lesion removal.

Is Cancer Causing The Itching

Ask an Expert: How to Spot Skin Cancer

Itching related to cancer is sometimes identical to itching related to skin conditions or other benign causes, but there are some characteristics that may differ.

Signs of cancer-related itching may include:

  • Itching in response to water, which is called aquagenic pruritus
  • Lack of any rash or hives
  • The presence of other symptoms such as a yellowish discoloration of the skin , and the B symptoms, which are body-wide symptoms of lymphoma including fever, weight loss, and drenching night sweats

In addition, itching associated with cancer may feel the worst on the lower legs and chest and may be associated with a burning sensation.

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Squamous Cell Carcinoma Warning Signs

Squamous cell carcinoma can take on many different appearances. The warning signs can include:

  • a rough and red scaly patch
  • an open sore that often has raised borders
  • a firm, dome-shaped growth

of skin cancer deaths. It often first appears as changes to a preexisting mole. Experts recommend looking for the ABCDE signs to identify moles that could be melanoma:

  • Asymmetry: one half of a mole or lesion does not match the other
  • Border: the edges are irregularly shaped or poorly defined
  • Color: the mole contains different colors, such as red, blue, black, pink, or white
  • Diameter: the mole measures more than 1/4 inch across about the size of a pencil eraser
  • Evolving: the mole is changing in size, shape, or color

Another warning sign for melanoma is the Ugly Duckling rule. Most normal moles look similar to each other. A mole that stands out from others should raise suspicion and be examined by a medical professional.

When Is Itching A Sign Of Skin Cancer

Itchy skin could be a sign of skin cancer if it is accompanied by:

  • A new skin growth or lesion
  • A change in a mole, such as a spread of pigment beyond the border
  • A sore that continually crusts over but doesnt heal
  • A rough or scaly skin patch
  • A pink, pearly bump that bleeds easily

Because it can be difficult to distinguish between a cancerous and noncancerous skin condition, its important to promptly discuss any new, changing or unusual rashes or moles with a physician.

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Get To Know Your Skin

The sooner a skin cancer is identified and treated, the better your chance of avoiding surgery or, in the case of a serious melanoma or other skin cancer, potential disfigurement or even death.

It is also a good idea to talk to your doctor about your level of risk and for advice on early detection.

It’s important to get to know your skin and what is normal for you, so that you notice any changes. Skin cancers rarely hurt and are much more frequently seen than felt.

Develop a regular habit of checking your skin for new spots and changes to existing freckles or moles.

Melanoma Signs And Symptoms

Do ABCDEs Always Apply to Melanoma  Can Cancer Look Normal ...

Melanoma skin cancer is much more serious than basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. It can spread quickly to other organs and causes the vast majority of skin cancer deaths in the United States. Usually melanomas develop in or around an existing mole.

Appearance

Signs and symptoms of melanoma vary depending on the exact type and may include:

  • A flat or slightly raised, discolored patch with irregular borders and possible areas of tan, brown, black, red, blue or white
  • A firm bump, often black but occasionally blue, gray, white, brown, tan, red or your usual skin tone
  • A flat or slightly raised mottled tan, brown or dark brown discoloration
  • A black or brown discoloration, usually under the nails, on the palms or on the soles of the feet

See more pictures and get details about different types of melanoma in our dedicated melanoma section.

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What You Can Do

If youve already had a BCC, you have an increased chance of developing another, especially in the same sun-damaged area or nearby.

A BCC can recur even when it has been carefully removed the first time, because some cancer cells may remain undetectable after surgery and others can form roots that extend beyond whats visible. BCCs on the nose, ears and lips are more likely to recur, usually within the first two years after surgery.

Heres what you can do to detect a recurrence and safeguard yourself against further skin damage that can lead to cancer:

Reviewed by:

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Does Skin Cancer Itch Symptoms Types Causes And Treatments

Does skin cancer itch, burn or give a painful feeling? This is the common question people mostly ask about skin cancer. Well, skin cancer does itch, burn and give a painful feeling. In fact, its warning signs include itchy bumps and burning or sore lesions on the skin. Sometimes, the itchiness come and go depends on the type of skin cancer. There is a specific type of skin cancer that really gives very itchy bumps. Some cancer types of skin are not that annoying. So, lets learn the different types as well as the common symptoms, causes and treatments.

Skin Cancer Itch

Skin cancer is common to people with lighter complexion or white skin. It is also one of the popular and widespread diseases with other life threatening cancers. The good news is that this cancer is not as deadly as breast cancer, ovarian cancer or leukemia. So, there is around 95 to 99% chance of survival rate. It is not really that dangerous but that does not mean you have to disregard the importance of getting treatment early. It is still advisable to get cured and treated as quickly as possible. Anyway, skin cancer prevention is not that difficult to find.

There are three main types of skin cancer, namely basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanomia. Yet, there is also one type of skin cancer which is a cancer of blood that really causes itchiness. It is the cutaneous T-cell lymphoma which is a growth of white blood cell in the skin. That explains why does skin cancer itch.

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When To See Your Doctor

If you have any of the symptoms mentioned above, itâs important to see your doctor. Most of the symptoms of kidney cancer have many potential causes, but there are other serious reasons you could be having these symptoms as well.

Kidney Cancer Doctor Discussion Guide

Get our printable guide for your next doctorâs appointment to help you ask the right questions.

Symptoms are our bodyâs way of signaling that something is wrong. Rather than fearing and ignoring them, take action to find out why theyâre occurring so that you can obtain appropriate and timely treatment. Talk to your doctor and ask questions. If you still donât have answers, consider getting a second opinion.

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Squamous Cell Carcinoma Signs And Symptoms

How to spot skin cancer

Generally found on the ears, face and mouth, squamous cell carcinoma can be more aggressive than basal cell. Untreated, it may push through the skin layers to the lymphatic system, bloodstream and nerve routes, where it can cause pain and symptoms of serious illness.

Appearance

Squamous cell cancer often starts as a precancerous lesion known as actinic keratosis . When it becomes cancerous, the lesion appears raised above the normal skin surface and is firmer to the touch. Sometimes the spot shows only a slight change from normal skin.

Other signs include:

  • Any change, such as crusting or bleeding, in an existing wart, mole, scar or other skin lesion
  • A wart-like growth that crusts and sometimes bleeds
  • A scaly, persistent reddish patch with irregular borders, which may crust or bleed
  • A persistent open sore that does not heal and bleeds, crusts or oozes
  • A raised growth with a depression in the center that occasionally bleeds and may rapidly increase in size

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What Are Some Of The Lesser

Some of the less common skin cancers include the following:

Kaposi sarcoma is a rare cancer most commonly seen in people who have weakened immune systems, those who have human immunodeficiency virus /AIDS and people who are taking immunosuppressant medications who have undergone organ or bone marrow transplant.

Signs and symptoms of Kaposi sarcoma are:

  • Blue, black, pink, red or purple flat or bumpy blotches or patches on your arms, legs and face. Lesions might also appear in your mouth, nose and throat.

Merkel cell carcinoma

Merkel cell carcinoma is a rare cancer that begins at the base of the epidermis, the top layer of your skin. This cancer starts in Merkel cells, which share of the features of nerve cells and hormone-making cells and are very close to the nerve ending in your skin. Merkel cell cancer is more likely to spread to other parts of the body than squamous or basal cell skin cancer.

Signs and symptoms of Merkel cell carcinoma are:

  • A small reddish or purplish bump or lump on sun-exposed areas of skin.
  • Lumps are fast-growing and sometimes open up as ulcers or sores.

Sebaceous gland carcinoma

Sebaceous gland carcinoma is a rare, aggressive cancer that usually appears on your eyelid. This cancer tends to develop around your eyes because theres a large number of sebaceous glands in that area.

Signs and symptoms of sebaceous gland carcinoma are:

  • A painless, round, firm, bump or lump on or slightly inside your upper or lower eyelid.

Dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans

How Common Are Painful Skin Cancer Lesions

A study completed at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in 2010 and 2011, found that of 268 patients who had confirmed skin cancer lesions, more than 1/3 reported itchiness and approximately 30 percent reported them as being painful.

Painful lesions were also found to be more likely in non-melanoma skin cancer lesions than in melanoma lesions. Pain prevalence was reported as greatest in squamous cell carcinoma at 42.5%, with pain prevalence in basal cell carcinoma at 19.9% and only 3.7% in melanoma.

In another study published in the Archives of Dermatology, the prevalence of pain in squamous cell carcinoma was found to be 39.8% and 17.7% in basal cell carcinoma.

So while these numbers may not represent the majority of lesions, they nevertheless show that there is a significant chance that skin cancer lesions will be painful.

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Who Gets Skin Cancer And Why

Sun exposure is the biggest cause of skin cancer. But it doesn’t explain skin cancers that develop on skin not ordinarily exposed to sunlight. Exposure to environmental hazards, radiation treatment, and even heredity may play a role. Although anyone can get skin cancer, the risk is greatest for people who have:

  • Fair skin or light-colored eyes
  • An abundance of large and irregularly-shaped moles
  • A family history of skin cancer
  • A history of excessive sun exposure or blistering sunburns
  • Lived at high altitudes or with year-round sunshine
  • Received radiation treatments

More Pictures Of Basal Cell Carcinoma

Wellness Lab Health Info: Skin Cancer Sign and Symptoms

While the above pictures show you some common ways that BCC can appear on the skin, this skin cancer can show up in other ways, as the following pictures illustrate.

Scaly patch with a spot of normal-looking skin in the center

On the trunk, BCC may look like a scaly patch with a spot of normal-looking skin in the center and a slightly raised border, as shown here.

Basal cell carcinoma can be lighter in some areas and darker in others

While BCC tends to be one color, it can be lighter in some areas and darker in others, as shown here.

Basal cell carcinoma can be brown in color

Most BCCs are red or pink however, this skin cancer can be brown, as shown here.

Basal cell carcinoma can look like a group of shiny bumps

BCC can look like a group of small, shiny bumps that feel smooth to the touch.

Basal cell carcinoma can look like a wart or a sore

The BCC on this patients lower eyelid looks like a wart* in one area and a sore** in another area.

If you see a spot or growth on your skin that looks like any of the above or one that is growing or changing in any way, see a board-certified dermatologist.

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