7 Skin Cancer Symptoms You Can’t See

by Carina Wolff

When most of us think of skin cancer, we think of unusual moles or other weird growths on our body. However, there are a number of skin cancer symptoms that you can't actually see, and although they are not as common as visible signs of skin cancer, they're still worth knowing. The more you know about potential signs of skin cancer, the better you'll able to detect anything that seems amiss, which means the more likely you are to get treatment early and prevent anything more serious.

"Skin cancers can be challenging to identify because the average person has had very little education in what features to look out for," says Dr. Kally Papantoniou, MD, FAAD with Advanced Dermatology P.C. over email. "Most of the time the lesion that brought the patient in ends up being benign, and the lesion of concern actually went unnoticed by the patient."

It's best to see your dermatologist annually for a skin check-up, as they can help you spot any issues you may not have noticed. However, in the meantime, it's also important to be vigilant on your own. Here are seven possible skin cancer symptoms that unlike a mole or lesion, you can't actually see.




Many people mistake skin cancer for a bug bite, since there can sometimes be itchiness." A growth or mole that has become itchy can be a warning sign, and should not be ignored," says Papantoniou. "Have a dermatologist examine and possibly biopsy."


Joint Pain


Skin cancer, especially the type that has spread, can cause arthritis-like discomfort in the body. "Some skin cancers can involve nerves under the skin and can present as discomfort or pain," says Papantoniou.


Rough Skin Texture


Noticing something off about your skin? It may not be just dryness. "If the skin feels rough and gritty like sand paper with gentle touching, that can be a sign that there is a skin cancer present," says Papantoniou.




Numbness anywhere in your body should not be ignored. "If an area has lost sensation to touch, this can also be a sign of a cancer," says Papantoniou. "Nerve involvement can present itself as numbness."


Bump Under The Skin


"A new raised areas of skin may sometimes occur in certain skin cancers," says Papantoniou. Especially look out for bumps that occur in areas like your groin, armpit, or neck, as those may be an indication of skin cancer that has spread to your lymph nodes, according to Jeremy Davis, MD who spoke to Prevention.


Abdominal Pain


Melanoma can spread to your liver, which can cause pain in the “upper right quadrant” of your abdomen, Davis told Prevention. Experiencing abdominal pain can be totally normal, so don't panic just because you have it. But if it's accompanied with any other suspicious symptoms, you should see a doctor.


Breathing Problems


Another place skin cancer can spread to is your lungs, and it can manifest itself as shortness of breath or a persistent cough, according to Prevention. Although it could also be something such as bronchitis, it's good to get it checked if you're worried — although in most cases you shouldn't be.