What Does Skin Cancer Look Like?

In this article we aim to answer a popular question which is, what does skin cancer look like? Skin Cancer is one of the most prevalent forms of cancer worldwide, and is a result of abnormal growth of skin cells. It’s crucial to be aware of the signs and symptoms of skin cancer for early detection and effective treatment. Understanding what skin cancer looks like can empower individuals to take proactive steps in safeguarding their skin health. In many instances you cannot determine if you have skin cancer by purely observing skin and this is one of the reasons it’s important to do skin checks on a regular basis.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the various types of skin cancer and the distinct characteristics that set them apart.

Types of Skin Cancer:

1. Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC):

Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer, typically appearing on sun-exposed areas such as the face, neck, and ears. Recognizing BCC involves observing:

  • Pearly or translucent bumps: These may resemble a flesh-colored or pinkish bump that appears shiny or waxy.
  • Raised, pink growths: Bumps with raised borders and a central indentation may signal BCC.
  • Open sores or scabs: Non-healing sores or areas that continuously scab, crust, or bleed warrant attention.

2. Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC):

Squamous cell carcinoma often manifests on areas exposed to the sun, including the face, ears, lips, and hands. Signs of SCC include:

  • Red, scaly patches: Rough or scaly patches of skin that may bleed or crust over.
  • Elevated growths or lumps: Firm, red nodules that may feel tender to the touch.
  • Wart-like growths: SCC can sometimes resemble warts, with a rough texture and uneven surface.

3. Melanoma:

Melanoma, while less common than BCC and SCC, is the most dangerous form of skin cancer. It can develop anywhere on the body, including areas not exposed to the sun. Key features of melanoma include:

  • Asymmetrical moles: Melanoma lesions often have irregular shapes and uneven borders.
  • Varied colors: Moles or growths with multiple shades of brown, black, blue, or red may indicate melanoma.
  • Changes in size or shape: Rapid growth or changes in the size, shape, or elevation of a mole are warning signs.
What Does Skin Cancer Look Like?

Signs of Skin Cancer:

1. ABCDE Rule:

The ABCDE rule serves as a useful mnemonic for identifying potential signs of melanoma:

  • Asymmetry: One half of the mole doesn’t match the other half.
  • Border irregularity: The edges of the mole are uneven or poorly defined.
  • Color variation: The mole contains different shades of brown, black, blue, or red.
  • Diameter: The diameter of the mole exceeds 6 millimeters (about the size of a pencil eraser).
  • Evolution: Any changes in size, shape, color, or elevation of a mole should be monitored closely.

2. Non-Healing Sores:

Persistent sores that fail to heal or lesions that repeatedly crust, bleed, or scab over may indicate basal or squamous cell carcinoma.

3. Changes in Texture:

Skin cancer lesions often exhibit changes in texture, becoming rough, scaly, or tender to the touch.

Seeking Medical Skin Check Evaluation:

If you notice any suspicious changes in your skin, it’s essential to consult a dermatologist promptly. A dermatologist can perform a thorough examination and, if necessary, order further tests such as a skin biopsy to confirm a diagnosis.

Skin Check Prevention and Early Detection:

While certain risk factors for skin cancer, such as genetics and family history, are beyond our control, adopting sun-safe practices can significantly reduce the risk:

  • Sunscreen: Apply broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher regularly, even on cloudy days.
  • Protective Clothing: Wear protective clothing, such as wide-brimmed hats and long-sleeved shirts, when outdoors.
  • Seek Shade: Limit exposure to the sun during peak hours (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.).
  • Regular Skin Checks: Conduct self-examinations of your skin every month to monitor for any changes or new growths.
  • Professional Skin Exams: Schedule regular skin exams with a dermatologist, especially if you have a history of skin cancer or other risk factors.


Recognising the signs of skin cancer is paramount for early detection and effective treatment. By familiarising yourself with the various types of skin cancer and understanding their distinctive characteristics, you can take proactive steps to protect your skin health.

Remember to practice sun-safe behaviours, conduct regular self-examinations, and seek medical evaluation for any concerning changes in your skin. With vigilance and awareness, you can safeguard against the dangers of skin cancer and enjoy healthier, radiant skin for years to come. If you are wanting to visit a skin check clinic in Melbourne then book your appointment today.

Disclaimer: The content provided on this website is intended for general informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice tailored to your specific needs and circumstances. Any reliance you place on the information provided in these blogs is, therefore, strictly at your own risk. We shall not be held responsible for any loss or damage resulting from the use of the information provided on this website.