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 it is recommended to 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.

Below are detailed 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 is the A, B, C, D, E signs of mole detection.

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)

Evolving: the mole has changed over time


If a GP suspects a patient of having a skin cancer, they will usually be referred to an appropriate clinic for diagnosis and treatment. Some patients may be also referred for specialist photography.