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Skin Cancer

Skin Cancer Symptoms and Tests

Most basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers can be cured if found and treated early.

Symptoms of Skin Cancer

Sometimes skin cancer is painful, but usually it is not. A change on the skin is the most common sign of skin cancer. Not all skin cancers look the same. Skin changes to watch for include:

Other symptoms you may notice include:

Tests for Diagnosing Skin Cancer

If you have a change on the skin, the doctor must find out whether it is due to cancer or to some other cause. Skin cancer is diagnosed using a biopsy. A biopsy is the only sure way to diagnose skin cancer. Here's what happens:

You may have the biopsy in a doctor's office or as an outpatient in a clinic or hospital. Where it is done depends on the size and place of the abnormal area on your skin. You probably will have local anesthesia.

There are four common types of skin biopsies:

Talk to your doctor

Before having a biopsy, you may want to ask your doctor these questions:

Source: National Cancer Institute - What You Need to Know About Skin Cancer

To Learn More

For more information:

Go to the Skin Cancer health topic, where you can:

Last Reviewed: Aug 07, 2013

Jeremy S Bordeaux, MD, MPH Jeremy S Bordeaux, MD, MPH
Assistant Professor of Dermatology
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University