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Dr. Mayzik
A change on the skin is the most common sign or symptom of skin cancer, including squamous cell carcinoma, or SCC. Dr. Patel, can you tell us what kind of changes to look for?

Dr. Patel
Sure, Dr. Mayzik. Skin changes that may indicate skin cancer include:

  • A sore that doesn't heal
  • A new growth or a change in an old growth
  • A firm, red nodule
  • A flat lesion with a crusty, scaly surface
  • A persistent, scaly red patch with irregular borders that may bleed or crust
  • A raised growth with a dip in the middle that occasionally bleeds and that rapidly increases in size
  • An open sore that bleeds and crusts persistently for weeks, or
  • A wart-like growth that crusts and occasionally bleeds

Uncircumcised men are especially at risk for genital SCC, which can look like any of these skin changes.

Genital SCC can also look flat and brown.

Another condition to be aware of is actinic keratosis, or AK. This condition is characterized by a rough, scaly, slightly raised growth that ranges in color from brown to red and is about one millimeter to one inch in diameter. It is found on sundamaged areas of the body, most often in older people, and can be the first step to squamous cell carcinoma. Some experts consider AK to be the earliest form of squamous cell carcinoma.

Regularly checking your skin for suspicious changes can help detect squamous cell skin cancer in its earliest stages and gives the greatest chance for successful skin cancer treatment. It’s important to contact your healthcare provider right away if any suspicious changes are found.