It’s Summer Time: Know the Signs and Symptoms of Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the country, and the majority of these cancers are caused by sun exposure. Skin makes up the body’s largest organ and has two layers: the outer layer called the epidermis and the inside layer called the dermis.

Skin cancer develops in three types of skin cells: basal, squamous and melanocytes. Basal and squamous cells are in non-melanoma skin cancers and are the most common. Melanoma is the third most common type of skin cancer and causes the most deaths as it spreads to other parts of the body.

Signs and Symptoms

Skin cancers can appear anywhere on the body, and it’s important to pay attention to changes to your skin.

The ABCD rule can help you identify the difference between a normal mole or a melanoma.

  • A = asymmetry. Does one half of the mole match the other half?
  • B = border irregularity. Are the edges of the mole ragged or notched?
  • C = color. Does the mole have different colors or is it the same all over?
  • D = diameter. Is the mole wider than ¼ inch?

Signs and symptoms of non-melanoma skin cancers include:

  • Visible in areas exposed to the sun.
  • Basal cell carcinomas can be flat and firm or small, raised, pink/red, waxy areas. They may bleed or ooze.
  • Squamous cell carcinomas may be lumps or rough, flat patches. They grow slowly.

If you have signs or symptoms of skin cancer, speak with your doctor who may refer you to a skin specialist called a dermatologist for further review.


Severe sunburns can result in sun poisoning or blistering that can increase your risk of skin cancer. The best prevention for skin cancer is to avoid UV radiation including sunlight and tanning beds. Wear protective clothing, hats, sunglasses, SPF factor lip balm and sunscreen. Remember to reapply sunscreen as directed.

Concerned about a skin growth?

Talk to your doctor or find a primary care physician. Physician groups at Memorial Health System are accepting new patients:

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