Skin Cancer—Moles, Spots, and Other Ways Skin Cancer Can Appear

Although our skin is tough, it’s still susceptible to damage and abnormalities, even if we take precautions to protect ourselves. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer, so it is important to know the signs and symptoms and follow a sun protection regimen every time you head outside.

Moles and spots on the skin

Most people have several moles or skin spots on their bodies that are considered normal. Normal moles are usually small brown spots that are round and can be flat or raised. An atypical mole can be a sign of one of the most serious forms of skin cancer—melanoma. Although it can sometimes be difficult to tell the difference between a normal and atypical mole, there are some clear warning signs to look out for, including:

  • Asymmetry
  • Irregular or hazy border
  • Irregular color
  • Large diameter
  • Notable changes

Signs and symptoms of skin cancer

Melanoma:

  • Any change in an existing mole
  • Dark, multicolored spot with irregular borders
  • A mole or spot that bleeds and scabs over
  • A cluster of shiny, firm bumps
  • A mole larger than a pencil eraser

Nonmelanomas (Basal cell carcinoma)

  • A flesh-colored bump
  • A reddish or dark patch of skin
  • An oval bump that develops into a bleeding ulcer

Nonmelanomas (Squamous cell carcinoma)

  • A firm, red, wart-like bump that grows slowly
  • A flat spot that develops into a bleeding sore

Treatment options for skin cancer

  • Surgery to remove the entire malignant spot
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Immunotherapy
  • Photodynamic therapy—using light to stop cancer cells