Signs and symptoms

It is important to recognise what is normal for you and if you notice any abnormal changes in your skin or moles you should seek advice from your GP as soon as possible. It might be helpful to take a photograph of anything unusual on your skin so you can monitor any changes over time.

Signs and symptoms of each skin cancer

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) may:

  • be smooth and pearly
  • look waxy
  • appear as a firm, red lump
  • bleed sometimes
  • develop a crust or scab
  • begin to show signs of healing and yet never quite heal
  • look like a flat, red spot which is scaly and crusty
  • develop into a painless ulcer

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) may:

  • look scaly
  • have a hard, horny cap
  • make the skin raised in the area of the cancer
  • feel tender to the touch


About half of all melanomas start with a change in previously normal-looking skin and usually looks like a dark area or an abnormal new mole. Other melanomas develop from a mole or freckle that you already have.

Below are the A, B, C, D, E, F, G signs for checking moles:

  • Asymmetrical: an irregularly shaped mole
  • Borders: the borders/edges of the mole are uneven
  • Colour: the mole is multi-colored
  • Diameter: the mole is larger in diameter than 6mm (about the width of the top of a pencil)
  • Elevation: a mole that is becoming raised
  • Firm: a mole that feels firm or solid
  • Growing: a mole that is showing signs of change


If your GP suspects you have symptoms of skin cancer, you will be referred for specialist advice on investigation, diagnosis and treatment. You may also be referred for specialist photography. If you require an appointment you will be contacted regarding this.

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