What Are Some Ways to Identify Skin Cancer?

The symptoms of skin cancer vary by cancer type; for example, basal cell carcinoma generally occurs on the areas of the body that are most often exposed to the sun, such as the face and neck, and it may appear as a waxy or pearly bump or a flat brown or flesh-colored lesion that looks much like a scar. According to Mayo Clinic, squamous cell carcinoma is generally seen as a flat lesion with a crusty scaled surface or a firm red nodule.

By contrast, melanoma symptoms include a mole that changes in color, "feel" or size or that bleeds; a large brown-colored spot with dark speckles; dark lesions located on the toes, fingertips, soles or palms or on the mucous membranes lining the anus, vagina, nose or mouth or a small lesion with portions appearing blue-black, blue, white or red that has irregular borders.

Less-common skin cancers may exude other symptoms. Kaposi sarcoma, for example, causes purple or red patches on the skin. Merkel cell carcinoma causes shiny, firm nodules just beneath the skin. Sebaceous gland carcinoma is characterized by painless, yet hard, nodules that can appear nearly anywhere, but that are most common on the eyelid.