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What Are The 3 Major Types Of Skin Cancer

When To Seek Medical Care For Skin Cancer

Types of Skin Cancer

Many people, especially those who have fair coloring or have had extensive sun exposure, periodically check their entire body for suspicious moles and lesions.

Have your primary health care provider or a dermatologist check any moles or spots that concern you.

See your health care provider to check your skin if you notice any changes in the size, shape, color, or texture of pigmented areas .

If you have skin cancer, your skin specialist or cancer specialist will talk to you about symptoms of metastatic disease that might require care in a hospital.

What It Looks Like

Squamous cell cancer involves the runaway growth of keratinocytes, cells in the outermost layer of skin, which produce the protein keratin. Squamous means scaly in 60%80% of cases, the lesions emerge on or near scaly patches called actinic keratoses that develop from sun-damaged skin.

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The Most Common Type Of Skin Cancer

Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer and it typically looks like a pearly or waxy bump, a flesh-colored growth, or a bleeding sore.

These most frequently appear on fair-skinned people after years of frequent exposure to the sun. Theyre most commonly found on sun-exposed areas like the head, neck or arms.

Basal cell carcinoma accounts for more than 80 percent of skin cancer cases.

If left untreated, basal cell carcinoma can penetrate nerves and bones, causing damage and disfigurement.

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Exams And Tests For Skin Cancer

If you think a mole or other skin lesion has turned into skin cancer, your primary care provider will probably refer you to a dermatologist. The dermatologist will examine any moles in question and, in many cases, the entire skin surface. Any lesions that are difficult to identify, or are thought to be skin cancer, may then be checked. Tests for skin cancer may include:

  • The doctor may use a handheld device called a dermatoscope to scan the lesion. Another handheld device, MelaFind, scans the lesion then a computer program evaluates images of the lesion to indicate if it’s cancerous.
  • A sample of skin will be taken so that the suspicious area of skin can be examined under a microscope.
  • A biopsy is done in the dermatologist’s office.

If a biopsy shows that you have malignant melanoma, you may undergo further testing to determine the extent of spread of the disease, if any. This may involve blood tests, a chest X-ray, and other tests as needed. This is only needed if the melanoma is of a certain size.


Basic Information About Skin Cancer

Skin Cancer and Kayak Fishing

Cancer is a disease in which cells in the body grow out of control. When cancer starts in the skin, it is called skin cancer.

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. Some people are at higher risk of skin cancer than others, but anyone can get it. The most preventable cause of skin cancer is overexposure to ultraviolet light, either from the sun or from artificial sources like tanning beds.

Most skin cancers are caused by too much exposure to ultraviolet rays. To lower your risk of getting skin cancer, you can protect your skin from UV rays from the sun and from artificial sources like tanning beds and sunlamps.While enjoying the benefits of being outdoors, people can decrease skin cancer risk by using sun protection. Protect yourself by staying in the shade, wearing protective clothing, and applying and re-applying a broad spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 15 or higher.Links with this icon indicate that you are leaving the CDC website.

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Are All Moles Cancerous

Most moles are not cancerous. Some moles are present at birth, others develop up to about age 40. Most adults have between 10 and 40 moles.

In rare cases, a mole can turn into melanoma. If you have more than 50 moles, you have an increased chance of developing melanoma.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Your skin is the largest organ in your body. It needs as much attention as any other health concern. What may seem like an innocent cosmetic imperfection, may not be. Performing regular skin self-checks is important for everyone and is especially important if you are a person at increased risk of skin cancer. Skin cancer is also color-blind. If you are a person of color, skin cancer can happen to you. Check your skin every month for any changes in skin spots or any new skin growths. Consider taking skin selfies so you can easily see if spots change over time. If youre a person of color, be sure to check areas more prone to cancer development, such as the palms of your hands, soles of your feet, between your toes, your genital area and under your nails. Takes steps to protect your skin. Always wear sunscreen with SPF of at least 30 every day of the year. Wear UV-A/UV-B protective sunglasses, wide-brimmed hats and long-sleeve shirts and pants. See your dermatologist at least once a year for a professional skin check.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 11/19/2021.


The 3 Major Types Of Skin Cancer

Jul 25, 2021 | Cancer

Detecting skin cancer as early as possible gives you the best chance of successfully treating it. And the best way to detect skin cancer is to check your own skin regularly for suspicious-looking changes.

The prognosis and treatment options vary depending on what kind of skin cancer you have. There are three major types, each of them affecting different kinds of skin cells.

Basal cells are rounder-shaped cells beneath the surface of the skin. Squamous cells are thin, flat cells on the skins outermost layer. Melanocytes are the cells that produce pigment called melanin when exposed to the sun, causing you to tan.

If you see any changes to your skin that concern you, make an appointment with your doctor or a dermatologist.

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Early Detection And Treatment

While the number of people diagnosed with skin cancer is on the rise, early detection and treatment have caused death rates to drop. When treated early, doctors can cure nonmelanoma skin cancer.

For malignant melanoma, the outlook largely depends on how deeply the melanoma has grown into the skin, and whether it has spread to other parts of the body. Melanoma on the surface of the skin that is treated properly can be cured. In the United States, the overall five-year survival rate for melanoma that has not spread is about 98%. The survival rate falls to 62% if the disease spreads to lymph nodes, and 15% if the disease spreads to distant organs.

Why Does Skin Cancer Occur In More Non

Types of Skin Cancer

Scientists dont fully know why people of skin with color develop cancer in non-sun-exposed areas, such as their hands and feet. They think that the sun is less of a factor though. However, dermatologists still see plenty of UV sunlight-induced melanomas and squamous cell skin cancer in people of color, in skin tones ranging from fair to very dark.

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What Are Some Of The Lesser

Some of the less common skin cancers include the following:

Kaposi sarcoma is a rare cancer most commonly seen in people who have weakened immune systems, those who have human immunodeficiency virus /AIDS and people who are taking immunosuppressant medications who have undergone organ or bone marrow transplant.

Signs and symptoms of Kaposi sarcoma are:

  • Blue, black, pink, red or purple flat or bumpy blotches or patches on your arms, legs and face. Lesions might also appear in your mouth, nose and throat.

Merkel cell carcinoma

Merkel cell carcinoma is a rare cancer that begins at the base of the epidermis, the top layer of your skin. This cancer starts in Merkel cells, which share of the features of nerve cells and hormone-making cells and are very close to the nerve ending in your skin. Merkel cell cancer is more likely to spread to other parts of the body than squamous or basal cell skin cancer.

Signs and symptoms of Merkel cell carcinoma are:

  • A small reddish or purplish bump or lump on sun-exposed areas of skin.
  • Lumps are fast-growing and sometimes open up as ulcers or sores.

Sebaceous gland carcinoma

Sebaceous gland carcinoma is a rare, aggressive cancer that usually appears on your eyelid. This cancer tends to develop around your eyes because theres a large number of sebaceous glands in that area.

Signs and symptoms of sebaceous gland carcinoma are:

  • A painless, round, firm, bump or lump on or slightly inside your upper or lower eyelid.

Dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans

Surgery For Skin Cancer

Small skin cancer lesions may be removed through a variety of techniques, including simple excision , electrodesiccation and curettage , and cryosurgery .

Larger tumors, lesions in high-risk locations, recurrent tumors, and lesions in cosmetically sensitive areas are removed by a technique called Mohs micrographic surgery. For this technique, the surgeon carefully removes tissue, layer by layer, until cancer-free tissue is reached.

Malignant melanoma is treated more aggressively than just surgical removal. To ensure the complete removal of this dangerous malignancy, 1-2 cm of normal-appearing skin surrounding the tumor is also removed. Depending on the thickness of the melanoma, neighboring lymph nodes may also be removed and tested for cancer. The sentinel lymph node biopsy method uses a mildly radioactive substance to identify which lymph nodes are most likely to be affected.


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The 3 Types Of Skin Cancer

The 3 types of skin cancer are:

  • basal cell,
  • squamous cell, and
  • melanoma.
  • Basal cell and squamous cell are also known as non-melanomas. They are more common compared to melanoma. The non-melanomas are also less deadly and are easier to treat. If you love the outdoors just as much as my husband does, preventing these 3 types should be our top concern.

    Both melanoma and non-melanomas are caused by overexposure to the sun’s radiation without enough protection and the use of tanning beds.

    Among the 3 types, the basal cell is the most common. In fact, majority of the diagnosed cases are basal cell. It is also the easiest to treat. There are fewer cases of squamous cell carcinoma but it is more aggressive compared to the basal cell. The melanoma is the least common but is more difficult to treat.

    This is how the basal and squamous cell carcinoma types look like:

    Images courtesy of the NCI

    Know The Flow: Melanoma

    Skin Cancer

    Know the Flow is an educational game for you to test your knowledge. To play:

    • Drag the appropriate choices from the column on the right and place them in order in the boxes on the left. Note that you will only use five of the six choices to complete the game.
    • When done, click on ‘Check’ to see how many you got correct.
    • For incorrect answers, click on ‘Description’ to review information about the processes.
    • To try again, choose ‘Reset’ and start over.

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    Basal Cell Skin Cancer

    Basal cell is the most common type of . Getting too much ultraviolet light from the sun or from a tanning bed can harm skin cells and cause basal cell skin cancer. When the damage comes from the sun, basal cell cancer takes years to develop. It usually shows up after age 50. It can develop faster if you use a tanning bed. If you have a light complexion and you burn easily, you are at higher risk for getting this skin cancer.

    Signs of basal cell cancers include:

    • A dome-shaped skin growth that grows slowly. You may be able to see tiny blood vessels near the surface.

    • A pale, waxy growth that looks like a scar

    • A shiny, scaly patch that’s pink or red

    • A sore that bleeds and crusts but does not heal

    To diagnose basal cell skin cancer, doctors take off a small piece of a suspicious growth and check it under a microscope. This procedure is a biopsy. Basal cell cancers are very treatable because they grow slowly and rarely spread. They are almost always curable. Treatment options include:

    • Cryosurgeryfreezing the growth with liquid nitrogen

    • Curettage and electrodessicationscraping away the growth and then destroying any remaining cancer cells with an electrical current

    • Medicated creams

    • Mohs surgeryremoving the cancer and some cells around it layer by layer and using a microscope to check the cells for cancer. If need be, more layers are removed and checked. This continues until the doctor finds no more cancer cells.

    • Surgical removal

    Basal Cell And Squamous Cell Carcinoma

    The two most common kinds of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, which are sometimes called nonmelanoma skin cancer. These cancers are carcinomas that begin in the cells that cover or line an organ.

    Basal cell carcinoma accounts for more than 90 percent of all skin cancers in the United States and is the most common of all cancers. Typically, it is a slow-growing cancer that seldom spreads to other parts of the body.

    Squamous cell carcinoma also rarely spreads, but does so more often than basal cell carcinoma. It is important that skin cancers are found and treated early because they can invade and destroy nearby tissue. Organ transplant recipients have a 65-fold higher risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma than others. UCSF Medical Center offers a High Risk Skin Cancer Clinic for those at high risk for non-melanoma skin cancers, such as transplant recipients.

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    What Are The 3 Types Of Skin Cancers

    There are three main types of skin cancer . The most serious is melanoma. Like all body tissues our skin is made up of cells: basal cells, squamous cells and melanocytes. The different types of skin cancer are named for the skin cell where the cancer develops: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma.

    Thereof, what are the most common skin cancers?

    Three Most Common Skin Cancers

    • Basal Cell Carcinoma. Affecting approximately 800,000 Americans each year, basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer.
    • Squamous Cell Carcinoma. The second most common cancer of the skin, squamous cell carcinoma is a tumor that occurs in the outer layer of the skin .
    • Malignant Melanoma.

    which is worse basal cell or squamous cell cancer? Though not as common as basal cell , squamous cell is more serious because it is likely to spread . Treated early, the cure rate is over 90%, but metastases occur in 1%5% of cases.

    Similarly, what are the 3 types of skin?

    There are three major types of skin cancers: basal cell carcinoma , squamous cell carcinoma , and melanoma.

    What is the most deadly type of skin cancer?

    Melanoma is considered the most dangerous form of skin cancer as it typically will spread to other areas of the body, including organs, if left untreated.

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    Which Is Which The Three Main Types Of Skin Cancer

    Three Types of Skin Cancer

    By | Submitted On March 19, 2008

    Today, more people are diagnosed with skin cancer than any other malignancy. While there are several types of skin cancers, three forms are much more common than any of the other types. This article focuses on the three main types of skin cancer, and how a person can learn to distinguish among them.

    Each of the three primary types of skin cancer is associated with a different type of skin cell. The severity of the cancer varies depending on which type of cancer a person is diagnosed as having. These three cancers include basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma.

    The first of these, basal cell carcinoma, is a nonmelanoma. This neoplasm initiates in the skin’s basal cells. It is this type of cancer with which 90 percent of persons living in the United States who have skin cancer are diagnosed. Most experts consider basal cell carcinoma to be the least serious type of skin malignancy, because it grows very slowly and does not spread. It is usually found on areas of the body most frequently exposed to sunlight.

    Squamous cell carcinoma is also considered a nonmelanoma. It begins in the outer layer of the skin known as the epidermis, in cells referred to as keratinocytes. Although it is more serious than the first, the chances of a cure are high if it is caught and treated before it spreads to other organs. Squamous cell carcinoma is also typically found on body parts that receive the greatest sun exposure.

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    How Common Is Skin Cancer

    Skin cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in the U.S.

    Other skin cancer facts:

    • Around 20% of Americans develop skin cancer sometime in their life.
    • Approximately 9,500 Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer every day.
    • Having five or more sunburns in your life doubles your chance of developing melanoma. The good news is that the five-year survival rate is 99% if caught and treated early.
    • Non-Hispanic white persons have almost a 30 times higher rate of skin cancer than non-Hispanic Black or Asian/Pacific Islander persons.
    • Skin cancer in people with skin of color is often diagnosed in later stages when its more difficult to treat. Some 25% of melanoma cases in African Americans are diagnosed when cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes.

    What Does Skin Cancer Look Like

    Basal cell carcinoma

    • BCC frequently develops in people who have fair skin. People who have skin of color also get this skin cancer.

    • BCCs often look like a flesh-colored round growth, pearl-like bump, or a pinkish patch of skin.

    • BCCs usually develop after years of frequent sun exposure or indoor tanning.

    • BCCs are common on the head, neck, and arms however, they can form anywhere on the body, including the chest, abdomen, and legs.

    • Early diagnosis and treatment for BCC are important. BCC can grow deep. Allowed to grow, it can penetrate the nerves and bones, causing damage and disfigurement.

    Squamous cell carcinoma of the skin

    • People who have light skin are most likely to develop SCC. This skin cancer also develops in people who have darker skin.

    • SCC often looks like a red firm bump, scaly patch, or a sore that heals and then re-opens.

    • SCC tends to form on skin that gets frequent sun exposure, such as the rim of the ear, face, neck, arms, chest, and back.

    • SCC can grow deep into the skin, causing damage and disfigurement.

    • Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent SCC from growing deep and spreading to other areas of the body.

    SCC can develop from a precancerous skin growth

    • People who get AKs usually have fair skin.

    • AKs usually form on the skin that gets lots of sun exposure, such as the head, neck, hands, and forearms.

    • Because an AK can turn into a type of skin cancer, treatment is important.


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