Types of Skin Cancer
Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)
Basal Cell Carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer. It most commonly develops on skin that receives the most sun exposure including the head, neck and back of the hands. Basal cell carcinoma is very commonly found on the face, often forming on the nose. While it is most commonly located on skin that has had sun exposure, it can appear on any part of the body. BCC can appear as a dome-shaped growth with visible blood vessels, a shiny pink or red, slightly scaly patch, or a waxy feeling, hard, pale white or yellow growth. Basal cell carcinoma grows slowly and rarely spreads to other parts of the body. It can, however, grow wide and deep into the tissue. When detected early, this type of skin cancer is highly treatable.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)
Squamous Cell Carcinoma is the second most common type of skin cancer and typically develops on skin that has been exposed to the sun for many years such as the head, neck and back of the hands. Women may have it develop on the lower legs. It is possible to get squamous cell carcinoma on any part of the body, including the inside of the mouth, lips and genitals. SCC can appear as a rough bump on the skin that may become dome-shaped or crusty as it grows, a sore that does not heal or heals and comes back, or a flat reddish scaly patch that grows slowly. SCC can spread to other parts of the body. However, when detected and treated early, it is highly curable.
Melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer. Melanoma is a cancer of the pigment producing cells in the skin known as melanocytes that is commonly caused by excessive sun exposure or exposure to ultraviolet radiation used in indoor tanning beds. Melanoma can develop on normal skin or in an existing mole. A new mole, particularly if it does not match other moles, may also be a sign of melanoma. Performing skin self-exams can help you detect the following warning signs of melanoma in moles (ABCDEs):
- Asymmetry – one half does not look like the other half
- Border – irregular, scalloped, or poorly defined border
- Color – varied from one area to another, shades of tan and brown or black, sometimes white, red, or blue
- Diameter – typically greater than 6mm (the size of a pencil eraser)
- Evolving – a mole or lesion that looks different from the rest or is changing in size, shape or color, a mole that becomes painful or begins to bleed or itch
Melanoma begins on the surface of the skin, but if given time to grow, can grow down through the skin reaching the blood and lymphatic system, which can allow it to spread (metastasize) through the body. If allowed to metastasize, melanoma can be life-threatening. However, when detected early, melanoma is highly treatable.