What to Know About Skin Cancer on the Face (2023)

Basal cell carcinomaSquamous cell carcinomaMelanoma
A shiny, skin-colored, translucent bumpA red, firm noduleA new growth that is pigmented or irregularly shaped
A brown, black, or blue lesion with a raised borderA flat, crusty, scaly lesionAn existing mole that changes in size or shape
A flat, scaly patch with raised edgesA rough, scaly patch on your lip that turns into an open sore (ulcer)A mole that changes colors or develops multiple colors
A white, waxy, scar-like lesion without a clear borderA raised area of skin on an old scar
An ulcer that develops on an old scar
A rough patch or sore that develops just inside the lip

Actinic Keratosis

Actinic keratosis, also called solar keratosis, is a common precancerous skin condition. It's often found on the face—near the eyes, nose, ears, or lips. Precancer means lesions that aren't officially cancerous but can turn into cancer if left untreated.

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Actinic keratosis (AK) is often mistaken for age spots, pimples, irritated skin, or badly chapped lips. In terms of appearance:

  • The spots can be rough, dry, scaly, or sandpapery. You can often feel them before seeing them.
  • They may appear red, white, tan, brown, gray, or pink.
  • They might itch, burn, sting, or feel tender or painful.
  • They might bleed.
  • Some can be hard, taking a form that looks like an animal's horn.

Who Is at Risk?

AKs are common—approximately 40 million Americans will develop AKs each year.

Risk factors include:

  • Having a history of excessive exposure to UV light through the sun or indoor tanning equipment
  • Being middle-aged or elderly
  • Having fair skin that burns easily and rarely tans, and light hair and eyes
  • Conditions that suppress the immune system, like an organ transplant, HIV, or taking immunosuppressive medications
  • Albinism, an inherited condition characterized by a lack of pigment in the hair, skin, and eyes
  • Xeroderma pigmentosum, an inherited disease that causes sensitivity to the sun
  • Rothmund-Thomson syndrome, a rare disease that impacts the skin
  • Bloom syndrome, a rare disease that increases sensitivity to the sun

Treatment

Because AKs can lead to more dangerous conditions if untreated, it's essential to have your dermatologist review any suspect spots so they can treat them as soon as possible. Treatments will remove the lesions; the treatment method depends on the lesion location and number of lesions.

Treatments can include various surgeries that remove the AK spots, including:

  • Cryosurgery: Destroys the lesion with extreme cold
  • Curettage: Scraping, with or without electrodesiccation, which uses heat and physical scraping to remove the spot
  • Mohs surgery: An approach that leaves as much healthy tissue as possible by excising skin and examining it under a microscope to look for cancer cells, and repeating until all cancer is removed

Healthcare providers can also destroy the lesions directly with laser treatments and photodynamic therapy, which uses a combination of light and medications to kill precancerous cells.

Healthcare providers might also prescribe medications to treat AKs, including creams for the skin like Adrucil (fluorouracil), Solaraze (diclofenac), and Aldara (imiquimod).

Actinic Cheilitis

Actinic cheilitis (AC) is a precancerous condition of the lip (similar to actinic keratosis). Some healthcare providers classify it as a very early-stage cancer of the lip. It presents as a red, dry, scaling, itchy Inflammation of the lips.

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It feels like persistent chapped lips or lip tightness, and you might see atrophy (thinning) and blurring of the border between the lips and the skin. The lips become scaly and rough with erosions or fissures and a sandpaper-like texture. It is more common on the lower lip but can also happen on the upper lip.

Actinic cheilitis is also known as farmer's lip, sailor's lip, and solar cheilitis.

(Video) 3 Types of Skin Cancer

Who Is at Risk?

One of the most significant risk factors for AC is long-term sun exposure, specifically outdoor jobs like construction, farming, and sailing.

Other risk factors include:

  • Light-colored skin
  • Lips that stick out
  • Being male and older
  • Living in a hot and dry climate, higher altitude, or closer to the equator
  • A history of skin cancer
  • Conditions that increase photosensitivity

Treatment

Treatments for AC include surgery to remove the affected area, and potentially part of the lip. Destructive treatments include photodynamic therapy (light treatment), cryosurgery (freezing), laser ablation, dermabrasion, and electrodesiccation.

These approaches seem to work best at preventing recurrence. Your healthcare provider may also prescribe topical therapies like Adrucil, Aldara, and Solaraze gel or lotion.

Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common type of skin cancer. It is diagnosed in approximately 4 million people per year in the U.S. and makes up about 80% of non-melanoma skin cancers. They're common on the head and neck but can happen anywhere. Most cases can be treated and cured.

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BCCs have a wide variety of appearances:

  • Can be flesh-colored
  • Pearl-like bumps or pinkish patches of skin, sometimes called a "pearly papule" because they're occasionally shiny.
  • Discolored
  • Raised or relatively flat
  • Sometimes scaly
  • May have a central depression or ulcer

What Does Basal Cell Carcinoma Look Like?

Who Is at Risk?

While anyone can develop BCCs, risk factors include:

  • Fair skin, blue eyes, light hair (but can develop in darker skin)
  • Years of recurrent sun exposure or indoor tanning
  • Intermittent high-intensity UV exposure (sunburns), especially in childhood
  • Middle age or older
  • Living closer to the equator
  • Having already been diagnosed with a BCC

Treatment

Most BCCs are not very serious. But, if these cancers are not recognized and treated, they can lead to disfigurement, complications, and even death. BCCs very rarely become malignant (spread to other areas of the body), but there are rare, aggressive forms that can be fatal.

Treatment options include surgery, specifically curettage and electrodesiccation, Mohs surgery, cryosurgery, laser surgery. Your healthcare provider might also recommend destroying the tumor by using photodynamic therapy or radiation treatment.

Medications, including topical medications Aldara or Adrucil, can be used to treat BCCs. If cancer has spread, oral medications including Erivedge (vismodegib) and Odomzo (sonidegib) might be used.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs) are the second most common skin cancer and make up the other 20% of non-melanoma skin cancers.

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(Video) BASAL CELL SKIN CANCER: WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW| DR DRAY

SCCs might look like a scab, a red firm bump, scaly patch, or a sore that heals and reopens. They can be raised, flat, or scaly. Areas of the face most commonly affected by SCC are the upper rim of the ear, face, neck, scalp, and lip.

Who Is at Risk?

The people who are most at risk for SCCs include those who:

  • Have fair skin, hair, and eyes, including albinism
  • Have had frequent, chronic sun exposure
  • Are male—men get SCCs in a 2-to-1 ratio to women
  • Are older
  • Live closer to the equator
  • Have a suppressed immune system
  • Use or have used tobacco
  • Have a history of skin cancer or precancerous skin conditions
  • Have sun-sensitizing conditions
  • Have a history of human papillomavirus (HPV)

Treatment

SCCs are more likely to spread to other parts of the body than BCCs, but most are easily treatable and not likely to be fatal.

Treatment options for SCCs include skin cancer surgeries and destructive therapies, like photodynamic therapy and radiation. If the SCC spreads, your healthcare provider might recommend chemotherapy.

Melanoma

Melanoma is the ninth most common cancer in the U.S. It typically appears on the trunk in men and legs in women, but it can also happen on the face. While it's one of the better-known types of skin cancer, it's not all that common. It makes up about 1% of skin cancers. In the U.S., there are about 106,000 cases per year and about 7,100 people die from it annually.

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There are four main subtypes of melanoma, each with unique characteristics. Melanoma can develop from existing moles or as a new dark spot that wasn't there before. It can be either flat or raised and might bleed easily. The parts of the face most commonly affected are the head, neck, eyes, and mouth.

Who Is at Risk?

Excessive sun damage is the most significant risk factor for melanoma, but some specific traits can increase your risk of developing it.

Risk factors for melanoma include:

  • Fair skin, freckles, light hair, and eyes; a tendency to burn instead of tan (melanoma is 20 times more common in Whites)
  • Older age, especially in men
  • Personal or family history of melanoma
  • A large number of moles (more than 50), atypical nevus syndrome, or very large moles present at birth
  • Weakened immune system
  • Xeroderma pigmentosum

Treatment

Melanoma has a tendency to become malignant and spread to the rest of the body, and it can be deadly.

Your healthcare provider will likely remove the tumor with surgery. Depending on how large the melanoma is, they might give it a wide excision around it, potentially even an amputation. If it has spread, your healthcare provider will also take a biopsy to see if it has spread to the lymph nodes.

There are a lot of promising medication therapies that can help treat melanoma. Immunotherapies are medications that use the body's immune system to fight the tumor. Targeted therapies specifically attack the cancer cells based on their unique characteristics.

How to Spot Melanoma

Melanoma, the least common but most serious skin cancer, can be spotted using the ABCDE rule which describes the five characteristics to watch out for, namely:

  • A - Asymmetry: When the two halves of a lesion don't match
  • B - Borders: When the edges of a lesion are jagged or irregular
  • C - Color: Whe a single lesion has multiple colors like brown, tan, black, red, blue, or pink
  • D - Diameter: When a lesion is more than 6 millimeters (0.25 inch) across
  • E - Evolution: When a lesion changes in size, shape, or color
(Video) What Are the Signs of Skin Cancer?

Sebaceous Gland Carcinoma

Sebaceous gland carcinoma (SGC) is a rare skin cancer that grows from the sebaceous gland cells that secrete oil and sebum to lubricate the hair follicles. SGCs can occur anywhere, but most occur on the upper and lower eyelids because they have the most sebaceous glands. They're often referred to as eyelid cancers.

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Sebaceous glands of the eyelid are called meibomian glands, and sebaceous gland carcinomas on the eyelid are sometimes called meibomian gland carcinomas. These tumors are painless, round, and firmly implanted in the eyelid. You may need to pull on the eyelid to see it.

The tumors can be slow-growing and often look yellowish. It can look like the part of the eyelid where it meets the lashes has thickened. SGC can have a yellow or reddish crust or can look like a pimple on the eyelid. It might bleed and form a sore that doesn't heal or that reappears.

The tumor might be mistaken for a stye, chalazion, or pink eye, all of which are much more common than SGC.

Who Is at Risk?

The major risk factors for SGCs include:

  • More common between ages 60 and 80, but can occur at any age
  • May be more common in Asians, though studies aren't in agreement
  • Previous radiation treatments
  • Weakened immune system
  • Muir-Torre Syndrome, a rare medical condition that causes tumors in the sebaceous glands.

Treatment

SGCs are aggressive cancers that can spread. Treatments include surgery to remove the tumor (usually Mohs), reconstructive surgery, and if the cancer is advanced, lymph node or eye removal. Other destructive methods are being tested for SGCs, including cryotherapy and radiation, though they're not the first choice.

Merkel Cell Carcinoma

Merkel cell carcinomas (MCCs) are a rare cause of skin cancer of the head or neck. Only about 2,000 are diagnosed every year in the U.S.

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Tumors take the form of rapidly growing, painless, firm, shiny nodules that can be pink, red, or purple. They're sometimes mistaken for an insect bite, sore, cyst, stye, or pimple.

Who Is at Risk?

The significant risk factors for MCCs include:

(Video) What Does Skin Cancer Look Like?

  • Age: 80% of patients are over 70.
  • Fair skin: 90% of patients are White.
  • Male: Men are two times more likely than women to develop MCCs.
  • High levels of UV exposure
  • Immunosuppression
  • Infection with Merkel cell polyomavirus: Researchers discovered this common virus in 2008 and have linked it to the development of MCCs. The way in which the virus is linked to cancer development is still being researched.

Treatment

MCC cancers are at risk of spreading locally in the skin and to nearby lymph nodes. They are more likely to be aggressive and spread than other skin cancers and are harder to treat when they've spread.

Treatments involve surgery and medication options Destruction of the tumor through radiation, either after or in place of surgery, may also be done.

Medications include chemotherapy, hormone-like drugs, and targeted therapies that directly attack the cancer cells. There are immunotherapy options like immune checkpoint inhibitors.

Researchers are also testing out autologous T-cell therapy, in which the patient's white blood cells are removed from their blood and taught to recognize cancer, then reinjected to fight MCCs.

Other Cancers on the Face

There are a few other rare skin cancers that might happen on the face:

  • Lymphoma of the skin is an uncommon type of white blood cell cancer.
  • Kaposi's sarcoma is a type of cancer caused by a herpes virus that can cause skin lesions on the face, most often in immunocompromised people. They look like purplish spots and are painless.
  • Skin adnexal tumors are a rare cancer type that starts in hair follicles or skin glands.
  • Sarcomas are tumors of the connective tissues—specifically the fat, nerves, bone, skin, and muscles—80% of which occur in the face, head, or neck.
  • Cutaneous leiomyosarcoma is an uncommon soft-tissue sarcoma that can happen on the face.

How Is Skin Cancer on the Face Prevented?

Your face is the most sun-kissed part of your body. Avoiding the sun (and other sources of UV light) is the best way to reduce your risk for skin cancers on the face (or anywhere!)

It's best to avoid indoor tanning beds and extended sun sessions outside. However, your face is likely to end up uncovered at some point, so you have to take extra precautions when you are out in the sun.

Sunscreen and SPF

The simplest way to avoid dangerous UV rays while outside is to apply sunblock or sunscreen.

Sunscreens come in two types—chemical and physical. Chemical sunscreens absorb the sun's UV light, while physical sunblocks block the light from reaching your skin.

The protection level of sunscreens is rated by sun protection factor (SPF) against UVA and UVB rays. You need a broad-spectrum SPF that blocks both types of ultraviolet rays to protect you from skin cancers. The higher the SPF, the greater the protection.

Applying SPF 15 every day can lower your SCC risk by 40%. It can reduce melanoma by 50%. It'll also prevent wrinkles, sagging, and sunspots. Make sure you also use lip balms with broad-spectrum SPF as well.

In addition to daily prevention with SPF, take some extra caution when you're spending a long time out in the sun, especially if it's a hot day. Make sure to use sunscreen formulated for the face, and reapply regularly (not just once in the morning), especially if you're sweating.

Another approach? Opt for a lifeguard vibe and swipe on some thick zinc SPF.

Beyond Sunscreen

Sunscreen isn't the only way to lower your skin cancer risk.

Try these tips:

  • Wear medium-dark sunglasses. Look for glasses with large lenses in a wraparound style that curves in close to the face—the more coverage, the better. Any lens that has 99% to 100% UV blocking is acceptable. Lenses that are polarized, photochromic, or infrared-blocking don't protect from sun damage on their own.
  • Wear big-brimmed hats in fabrics with an ultraviolet protection factor (or UPF) rating.
  • Try a wearable UV sensor to tell you when you've gotten too much sun.
  • Adjust your schedule to be inside during the strongest sun hours, and if you can't be inside, seek out shade.
  • Avoiding tobacco can also help decrease your risk for skin cancer on the face (and other, more deadly cancers, too).

Summary

Because the face is commonly exposed to UV radiation from the sun, it is a common site for skin cancer. The three most common types (by order of frequency) are basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), and melanoma. Rare types include sebaceous gland carcinoma and Merkel cell carcinoma.

In some cases, a new skin spot may be due to a precancer like actinic keratosis or actinic cheilitis, both of which can turn into skin cancer if left untreated.

Because skin cancer comes in many different types and appearances, it is in your best interest to have any unusual skin growth or changes in skin seen by a dermatologist. To avoid skin cancer, use sunscreen, wear protective clothing, and avoid excessive sun exposure.

FAQs

What to Know About Skin Cancer on the Face? ›

A pearly or waxy bump on your face, ears or neck. A flat, pink/red- or brown-colored patch or bump. Areas on your skin that look like scars. Sores that look crusty, have a depression in the middle or bleed often.

Is skin cancer on the face serious? ›

The face is a common area where skin cancer develops. That primarily has to do with too much exposure to the sun and tanning bed use. Fortunately, most skin cancers, regardless of location, have an excellent prognosis.

What does skin cancer on the face first look like? ›

It might look skin coloured, waxy, like a scar or thickened area of skin that's very slowly getting bigger. You might also see small blood vessels.

How fast does skin cancer spread on face? ›

Some forms of skin cancer tend to grow in a matter of weeks, while others grow over months, or even longer. While a number of factors determine how fast or slow skin cancer may grow in any one individual, some types of skin cancer are more aggressive than others.

When should I be concerned about skin cancer on my face? ›

The first sign of non-melanoma skin cancer is usually the appearance of a lump or patch on the skin that doesn't heal after a few weeks. In most cases, cancerous lumps are red and firm, while cancerous patches are often flat and scaly. Speak to your GP if you have any skin abnormality that hasn't healed after 4 weeks.

How do they remove skin cancer from face? ›

Basal or squamous cell skin cancers may need to be removed with procedures such as electrodessication and curettage, surgical excision, or Mohs surgery, with possible reconstruction of the skin and surrounding tissue. Squamous cell cancer can be aggressive, and our surgeons may need to remove more tissue.

Does cancer on face spread? ›

Cancer may spread from where it began to other parts of the body. Staging for basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma of the skin depends on where the cancer formed.

Where is skin cancer most common on face? ›

Most often, skin cancer develops in areas of the body that are regularly exposed to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun, such as the:
  • Scalp.
  • Face.
  • Nose.
  • Tops of the ears.
  • Lips.
  • Neck.
  • Chest.
  • Arms.
Apr 22, 2019

Where does face skin cancer spread to? ›

Melanoma can spread to almost anywhere in the body but the most common places for it to spread are the: lymph nodes. lungs. liver.

What is the most common skin cancer on face? ›

Basal cell carcinoma is a type of skin cancer that most often develops on areas of skin exposed to the sun, such as the face. On white skin, basal cell carcinoma often looks like a bump that's skin-colored or pink.

Is skin cancer on the face curable? ›

Nearly all skin cancers can be cured if they're treated before they have a chance to spread. The earlier skin cancer is found and removed, the better your chance for a full recovery. It's important to continue following up with your dermatologist to make sure cancer doesn't come back.

What are the 7 warning signs of skin cancer? ›

7 signs of skin cancer you could be missing
  • Changes in the appearance of a mole. ...
  • Skin changes after a mole has been removed. ...
  • Itchiness & oozing. ...
  • A sore or spot that won't go away. ...
  • Scaly patches. ...
  • Vision problems. ...
  • Changes in your fingernails or toenails.
Oct 18, 2017

How does skin cancer start on face? ›

These cancers most often develop on skin areas typically exposed to the sun, especially the face, ears, neck, scalp, shoulders and back. What causes it? Most BCCs are caused by the combination of intermittent, intense exposure and cumulative, long-term exposure to UV radiation from the sun.

What are 3 warning signs of skin cancer? ›

Skin cancer symptoms may include:
  • A new spot on the skin or.
  • A changes in the size, shape or color of an existing spot. ...
  • A spot that is itchy or painful.
  • A non-healing sore that bleeds or develops a crust.
  • A red- or skin-colored shiny bump on the top of the skin.
  • A red rough or scaly spot that you can feel.

What happens if you don't treat skin cancer on your face? ›

These skin cancers will continue to grow if nothing is done to stop them. Extended growth can result in involvement of vital structures like the nose, eyes, ears, bone, tendon or muscle and can become disfiguring or even life-threatening. Fortunately, most of the time they grow very slowly.

What happens if skin cancer on face is left untreated? ›

What happens if basal cell carcinoma is left untreated? If you don't receive treatment for basal cell carcinoma, the skin cancer can slowly grow in size and invade deeper tissues like muscle and bone and cartilage. The BCC may become painful and ulcerated, which can cause bleeding and infection.

How deep do they cut out skin cancer? ›

The doctor will inject a local anaesthetic to numb the affected area, then cut out the skin cancer and some nearby normal-looking tissue (margin). The recommended margin is usually between 2 mm and 10 mm depending on the type and location of the skin cancer.

How long does it take to remove skin cancer from face? ›

For most people, the procedure takes less than four hours. Your surgeon may tell you to plan for the surgery to take all day, just in case it might. But there's a very small chance it could take that long. Wear comfortable clothing.

What happens if you pick off skin cancer? ›

Dr. Sarnoff explains that if you cut off a primary melanoma yourself, melanoma cells can remain in the skin and spread through the bloodstream to other parts of the body — all without your knowledge. A board-certified dermatologist would perform a biopsy on the tissue to be sure of any diagnosis.

How long can you live with skin cancer on your face? ›

almost all people (almost 100%) will survive their melanoma for 1 year or more after they are diagnosed. around 90 out of every 100 people (around 90%) will survive their melanoma for 5 years or more after diagnosis.

Can skin cancer on face spread to brain? ›

Among all cancer types, melanoma is especially likely to spread to the brain. Studies estimate that between 40% to 75% of people whose melanoma spreads will end up with one or more brain metastases.

Can skin cancer on face spread to eye? ›

Melanoma can also begin on the skin or other organs in the body and spread to the eye.

What color is skin cancer on face? ›

For example, melanoma is a type of skin cancer that is often pigmented tan, brown, black, even blue. But amelanotic melanoma lacks pigment and appears as a skin-tone or pink lesion.

What age do people get skin cancer on face? ›

Age. Most basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas typically appear after age 50. However, in recent years, the number of skin cancers in people age 65 and older has increased dramatically. This may be due in part to better screening and patient tracking efforts in skin cancer.

What is aggressive skin cancer on the face? ›

Merkel cell carcinoma is a rare, aggressive skin cancer. It appears as a painless, flesh-colored or bluish-red nodule growing on your skin. Merkel cell carcinoma is a rare type of skin cancer that usually appears as a flesh-colored or bluish-red nodule, often on your face, head or neck.

Can you tell if skin cancer has spread? ›

If your melanoma has spread to other areas, you may have: Hardened lumps under your skin. Swollen or painful lymph nodes. Trouble breathing, or a cough that doesn't go away.

How long can you have skin cancer without knowing? ›

For example, certain types of skin cancer can be diagnosed initially just by visual inspection — though a biopsy is necessary to confirm the diagnosis. But other cancers can form and grow undetected for 10 years or more , as one study found, making diagnosis and treatment that much more difficult.

How bad is stage 2 skin cancer? ›

Stage 2 melanoma means the tumor is more than 1 mm thick and may be larger or have grown deeper into the skin. It may be ulcerated or not ulcerated. The cancer has not spread to nearby lymph nodes or to distant parts of the body. Surgery to remove the cancerous tumor is the usual treatment strategy.

What does skin cancer on face feel like? ›

Some types of skin cancer spread along the nerves. If this happens, it can cause itching, pain, numbness, tingling, or a feeling like there are ants crawling under the skin. Other signs may include a lump or bump under the skin in areas such as the neck, armpit, or groin.

How can you tell if a spot is cancerous? ›

Firm red lumps that may bleed or develop a crust. Flat red spots that are rough, dry or scaly. New spots or spots that change. Sores that don't heal, or heal and then return.

What does melanoma cancer look like on the face? ›

Border that is irregular: The edges are often ragged, notched, or blurred in outline. The pigment may spread into the surrounding skin. Color that is uneven: Shades of black, brown, and tan may be present. Areas of white, gray, red, pink, or blue may also be seen.

Do you need chemo for skin cancer? ›

In most cases, systemic chemotherapy is recommended for patients with advanced skin cancer, especially Merkel cell carcinoma that has spread to distant parts of the body. Topical chemotherapy may be an option for localized basal cell carcinoma.

What is the cream for skin cancer on the face? ›

Chemotherapy cream

A cream called 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) is a type of chemotherapy drug. It is used to treat sunspots and, sometimes, squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) in situ (Bowen's disease). 5-FU works best on the face and scalp. Your GP or dermatologist will explain how to apply the cream and how often.

How quickly does skin cancer spread? ›

Melanoma can grow very quickly. It can become life-threatening in as little as 6 weeks and, if untreated, it can spread to other parts of the body.

What can be mistaken for skin cancer? ›

Five skin conditions that are often mistaken for skin cancer
  • Psoriasis. Psoriasis is a skin condition believed to be related to an immune system problem, which causes T cells to attack healthy skin cells by accident. ...
  • Seborrheic Keratoses (Benign tumour) ...
  • Sebaceous hyperplasia. ...
  • Nevus (mole) ...
  • Cherry angioma.

What is considered early stage skin cancer? ›

Stage I: The primary tumor is 2 centimeters (cm) or smaller at its widest part. The cancer has not spread to the lymph nodes or to other parts of the body. Stage IIA: The tumor is larger than 2 cm and has not spread to the lymph nodes or other parts of the body.

Can skin cancer look like a pimple? ›

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is a type of skin cancer that can show up on the skin in many ways. Sometimes, it can be mistaken for a harmless pimple, scar, or sore.

Is melanoma flat or raised? ›

Melanomas can start flat but become raised as they grow. If you can feel it, it's likely abnormal. Sometimes in melanoma assessment, the "E" in ABCDE stands for "evolving." That's because melanomas change in size, shape, and color over time.

What do cancers look like on skin? ›

Skin cancer does not always look like an abnormal, dark mole. It can also show up as growing, changing spot that can be the same color as your skin, pink or red. Suspicious spots can look flat or raised and have a scaly or smooth surface.

How do they cut out basal cell carcinoma? ›

In most cases, a basal cell carcinoma can be removed with a traditional surgical excision, which involves using a small knife to remove the tumor and some surrounding healthy skin. After the excision is completed, a pathologist will carefully examine the removed tissue for evidence of cancer.

Does skin cancer show up in blood work? ›

Each year, nearly 5 million people are treated for skin cancer, and in the last three decades, more Americans have had skin cancer than all other cancers combined. But here's the good news: You can often see the early warning signs of skin cancer... without an x-ray or blood test or special diagnostic procedure.

What does stage 1 squamous cell carcinoma look like? ›

Squamous Cell Carcinoma Early Stages

At first, cancer cells appear as flat patches in the skin, often with a rough, scaly, reddish, or brown surface. These abnormal cells slowly grow in sun-exposed areas.

What does a basal cell carcinoma look like? ›

What does BCC look like? BCCs can look like open sores, red patches, pink growths, shiny bumps, scars or growths with slightly elevated, rolled edges and/or a central indentation. At times, BCCs may ooze, crust, itch or bleed. The lesions commonly arise in sun-exposed areas of the body.

How long can you wait to have basal cell carcinoma removed? ›

There can be a wait up to a few months. BCC is the most common type of non melanoma skin cancer. It generally takes years to develop in most people. So waiting a short time is unlikely to do any harm.

How long can you go with untreated skin cancer? ›

Because it can be quickly growing, it's very dangerous to leave melanoma untreated. This skin cancer can become life-threatening within 4-6 weeks. The cure rate is high, however, if the melanoma is diagnosed and treated when it is thin or at an early stage.

What happens if I have skin cancer on my face? ›

Redness or new swelling beyond the border of a mole. Color that spreads from the border of a spot into surrounding skin. Itching, pain, or tenderness in an area that doesn't go away or goes away then comes back. Changes in the surface of a mole: oozing, scaliness, bleeding, or the appearance of a lump or bump.

Is cancer on the face treatable? ›

See a suspicious spot, see a dermatologist

Found early, skin cancer is highly treatable. Often a dermatologist can treat an early skin cancer by removing the cancer and a bit of normal-looking skin.

Can facial skin cancer be treated? ›

Most cases of skin cancers are basal cell or squamous carcinomas and may be treated in a dermatologist's office or with outpatient surgery. But more aggressive skin cancers, such as melanoma or Merkel cell carcinoma, usually require more extensive treatments, such as surgery, chemotherapy or immunotherapy.

Can face cancer be cured? ›

Nearly all skin cancers can be cured if they are treated before they have a chance to spread. The earlier skin cancer is found and removed, the better your chance for a full recovery. Ninety percent of those with basal cell skin cancer are cured.

Can skin cancer on your face go to your brain? ›

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that can spread to other parts of the body. When it spreads to an internal organ, such as the brain, a patient has advanced or metastatic (met-ah-stat-ic) cancer. This is stage IV, the most serious stage.

What causes skin cancer on face? ›

Most skin cancers are caused by too much exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays. To lower your risk of getting skin cancer, you can protect your skin from UV rays from the sun and from artificial sources like tanning beds and sunlamps.

How successful is skin cancer removal? ›

Mohs micrographic surgery has the highest cure rate of all treatments for basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers. For basal cell carcinoma, the cure rate is up to 99% for new cases and up to 94% for recurrent cases.

What is the best treatment for skin cancer on the face? ›

Surgery. Simple excision, Mohs micrographic surgery, curettage and electrodesiccation, and cryosurgery are used to treat basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma of the skin.

How do dermatologists remove skin cancer? ›

Curettage and electrodesiccation: During this type of surgical removal, your dermatologist first scrapes the basal cell carcinoma from your skin, using a technique called curetting. Then, a procedure called electrodesiccation is used to destroy any remaining cancer cells with heat.

How do you stay positive in the face of cancer? ›

How to Stay Positive When You Have Cancer: The Top Tips to Know
  1. Surround Yourself with Positive People. ...
  2. Eliminate Toxic Relationships. ...
  3. Keep a Gratitude Journal. ...
  4. Discover Cognitive Reframing. ...
  5. Try a Mantra. ...
  6. Focus on Your Passions.
May 6, 2020

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