Q:

Is itchy skin an indicator of cancerous skin cells?

A:

Quick Answer

Itching can be a symptom of skin cancer, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. Itchy moles or spots on the skin that continue to itch for long periods are sometimes cancerous, especially if those features display other characteristics typical of cancerous lesions.

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Full Answer

Itching is a common but not universal symptom of skin cancer lesions, reports WebMD. A study of patients with the aggressive skin cancer melanoma found that itching was a symptom reported in approximately one-third of the lesions examined in the study. Approximately one-third of the melanoma lesions were also painful, and it was not uncommon for lesions to both painful and itchy. Other studies indicate that itching is even more common in other forms of skin cancer, such as basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.

Persistent flaking, bleeding or crusting of a skin lesion may also indicate skin cancer, notes the Skin Cancer Foundation. These lesions are more likely to be cancerous if they also have irregular borders, asymmetrical shapes or unusual coloration. Any spots on the skin that grow or are greater than 1/4 inch in diameter are also suspect, even if itching or other symptoms are not present. Paying attention to the symptoms of skin cancer is vital for early detection of this disease at its most treatable stages.

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