Are skin cancer spots painful?

How common are painful skin cancer lesions?

A study completed at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in 2010 and 2011, found that of 268 patients who had confirmed skin cancer lesions, more than 1/3 reported itchiness and approximately 30 percent reported them as being painful.

Painful lesions were also found to be more likely in non-melanoma skin cancer lesions than in melanoma lesions. Pain prevalence was reported as greatest in squamous cell carcinoma at 42.5%, with pain prevalence in basal cell carcinoma at 19.9% and only 3.7% in melanoma.

In another study published in the Archives of Dermatology, the prevalence of pain in squamous cell carcinoma was found to be 39.8% and 17.7% in basal cell carcinoma.

So while these numbers may not represent the majority of lesions, they nevertheless show that there is a significant chance that skin cancer lesions will be painful.

Knowing the symptoms

To better understand if a painful spot or growth may be cancerous, look for other possible symptoms of skin cancer that may appear alongside the pain, such as:

  • The emergence of new moles or spots
  • Moles or spots that increase in size
  • Moles or spots with blurry edges
  • Moles or spots that change in color or contain multiple colors
  • A mole or spot that becomes raised over time
  • Moles or spots with irregular, rough or ulcerated surfaces
  • Moles or spots that tend to bleed easily
  • Moles or spots that look different from others
  • Any ulcer or broken down part of the skin that does not heal within 4 weeks

> Whether you see any additional symptoms or not, pain alone is a sign that you should have the spot or lesion checked out by your doctor or dermatologist immediately.

Learn more about the symptoms of skin cancer.