Home  >  Health Encyclopedia  >  Health Encyclopedia Home

Health Encyclopedia

 

Health Encyclopedia Home



Understanding the Types of Skin Cancer

Understanding the Types of Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is cancer that begins in the cells of the skin. The cancer usually results from sun damage to the skin. There are three main types of skin cancer. They are listed from most common to most to least common:

  • Basal cell carcinoma. This cancer begins in basal cells in the deepest part of the epidermis, which is the top layer of the skin. It is the most common type of skin cancer. This cancer does not often cause death. It grows slowly and rarely spreads to other parts of the body. It is usually found on parts of the body that are exposed to the sun, such as the face, scalp, nose, legs, and upper back. A basal cell carcinoma tumor is usually raised from the skin and looks pearly.

cell carcinoma
Basal cell carcinomas form in places exposed to the sun and look raised and pearly.

  • Squamous cell carcinoma. This begins in squamous cells. It is the second most common type of skin cancer. It can be cured in most cases. Sometimes it can spread to other parts of the body. Like basal cell carcinoma, it is usually found on skin that is exposed to the sun. However, it can also be found in places that have not been exposed to the sun. People who have had a lot of skin damage over a longer period of time have a higher chance of getting squamous cell carcinoma.

cell carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinomas may form in places exposed to the sun, or on other places.

  • Melanoma. This cancer begins in melanocytes of the skin. These are cells that give skin its color. This is the least common skin cancer, but the most deadly. Melanoma can also begin in your fingernails, eyes, mouth, rectum, or vagina. That’s because melanocytes are also located there.

Your doctor finds the type of skin cancer you have from taking a biopsy. The type you have determines your choices for treatment. Basal and squamous cell make up a large majority of skin cancer cases. They are considered slow growing and don’t tend to spread.

Anatomy of the skin
Click Image to Enlarge

 
Related Items
Wellness Library
  Medical Symptoms You Should Never Ignore
Cancer Source
  What To Do When You Find a Skin Abnormality
  How Can I Prevent or Detect Skin Cancer?
  Can I Get Checked for Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer?
  What Are the Symptoms of Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer?
  Understanding Your Stage of Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer
  What to Know About Surgery for Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer
  What to Know About Radiation Therapy for Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer
  What to Know About Chemotherapy for Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer
  Do What You Can to Ease Side Effects of Treatment for Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer
  Sunscreen and Skin Cancer
  I’ve Just Been Told I Have Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer
  What Is My Prognosis for Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer?
  Am I At Risk for nonMelanoma Skin Cancer?
  Tips for Feeling Your Best During and After Treatment for Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer
  FDA-Approved Drugs
Cancer FAQs
  Frequently Asked Questions About Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer
NCI Patient Summary
  Skin Cancer Prevention (PDQ®)
  Skin Cancer Treatment (PDQ®)
  Skin Cancer Screening (PDQ®)
Adult Diseases and Conditions
  Treatment for Skin Cancer
  Skin Cancer
  Basal Cell Carcinoma
  Causes of Skin Cancer
  Glossary - Skin Cancer
  Home Page - Skin Cancer
  Online Resources - Skin Cancer
  Other Causes and Risk Factors For Skin Cancer
  Preventing Skin Cancer
  Topic Index - Skin Cancer
  Facts About Skin Cancer
  Types of Skin Cancer
Pediatric Diseases and Conditions
  Skin Cancer in Children
  Treatment for Skin Cancer in Children