Skin cancer is primarily present on areas of skin that are exposed to the sun, such as the face, back, scalp and arms. It may also form on areas that don’t see very much sun, such as the palms, underneath the fingernails or the genital area. Receiving a thorough skin cancer screening can detect early signs of this disease.
Basal cell cancer generally occurs on sun-exposed areas. Signs of basal cell carcinoma include:
- Bumps that are whitish and waxy
- Lesions that are flat and flesh colored or brown
Squamous cell cancer also appears primarily on areas of the skin that are exposed to the sun. Its symptoms include:
- A firm, red cyst
- A flat lesion with a crusty, flaking surface
Unlike basal and squamous cancers, melanoma can occur anywhere on the body. In men, it most commonly occurs on the torso, head or neck. In women, it generally develops on the lower legs. In both genders, melanoma can develop on skin that hasn’t been exposed to the sun.
Signs and symptoms of melanoma include:
- A brown spot with dark specks
- A mole that changes in any number of qualities, such as size, texture and color
- A small cyst with areas that appear red, white or blue
- Dark lesions on the palms or soles of the feet, as well as membranes lining the mouth, nose, vagina or anus
- Moles with an irregular border
Melanoma may also occur in areas that have little or no sun exposure, such as the palms, soles of the feet and genitals. When melanoma develops in people with darker skin, it’s more likely to be in a hidden area. Primary forms of hidden melanoma include:
Under the nail, otherwise known as subungual melanoma. The first sign is generally a discoloration that can be mistaken for a bruise. In the mouth, digestive tract, urinary tract or vagina. Each of these areas contains a mucous membrane, in which the melanoma develops. Eye melanoma, otherwise known as ocular melanoma, can develop in the uvea. This type of melanoma can be diagnosed in an eye exam.