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Understanding the Different Types of Skin Cancer

Nov 12, 2012

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer, accounting for almost half of all cancers diagnosed in the United States. Learning to recognize some of the different types of skin cancers will better enable you to seek prompt dermatologic care when you see a suspicious area of skin.

Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma begins in the basal cell layer of the skin. Typically, basal cell carcinoma develops in areas that are often exposed to the sun, such as the face. This is the most common type of skin cancer for individuals with fair skin. Symptoms are waxy, pink, raised bumps. They may also have superficial blood vessels with a central depression. Basal cell carcinoma rarely spreads to other areas of the body.


Melanoma begins in pigmented cells and can occur on any area of the body, whether they are exposed to sunlight or not. Most commonly, men have melanoma on their neck, head, and torso, while women typically develop melanoma on their lower legs and torso. Look for black or brown lesions with asymmetrical borders, color, or shape. Melanoma accounts for 77% of deaths related to skin cancer, but only for 4% of diagnosed skin cancer. In addition, melanoma is the most likely skin cancer to metastasize.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma begins in the squamous cells, which form part of the epidermis. For individuals with dark skin, squamous cell carcinoma is most often found in areas not as exposed to the sun, such as the feet and legs. For fair-skinned individuals, squamous cell carcinoma is most common on areas of the body that are frequently exposed to the sun, such as the neck, face, hands, and head. Rough, raised, dull red skin lesions may be squamous cell carcinoma.

Do you have any questions about new or changing areas on your skin? Seek the professional opinion of a dermatologist from Arlington Dermatology. Early diagnosis and skin cancer treatment can improve your treatment results. You can schedule an appointment today by calling us at [company-phone id=1].

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