What are the different types of Skin Cancer?

What are the different types of Skin Cancer? Skin cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal skin cells. It can be caused by various factors such as genetics and skin type. But typically, in most cases, skin cancer is caused by overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) light produced by the sun.

Types of Skin Cancer

The type of skin cancer depends on the cells that are damaged. There are three major types of Skin Cancer:

  • Basal cell carcinoma
  • Squamous cell carcinoma
  • Melanoma

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC)

Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer in white and fair skinned people. It is a cancer that grows on parts of the skin, that get exposed to UV rays from the sun or from a tanning bed. BCC is caused by damage to the cells at the base of the epidermis (the outer layer of the skin). It is less common in dark-skinned people.

BCC is the least risky type of skin cancer. If you catch it early, you can be cured. At first, it looks like a pearly or waxy bump usually on the face, ears, or neck. However, BCCs can vary in shape and color. They usually grow very slowly and it can take months for one to grow. If left untreated, it can form an ulcer known as rodent ulcer. This cancer rarely spreads from the skin to other areas of the body, however if untreated it may grow and cause damage to nearby bone or tissue.

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)

This is the second most common form of skin cancer in white and fair skinned people. This cancer is typically found in areas of the skin damaged by UV rays from the sun or tanning beds. Squamous cell carcinoma is a cancer of the squamous cells, that are flat cells in the outer part of the epidermis and are nearest to the surface of the skin. It is less common in dark-skinned people.

SCC looks like a firm red lump usually on the face, lips, ears, neck, hands, arms, or legs. If untreated, the SCC can spread to nearby tissues, bones, and lymph nodes. If caught early, most SCCs can be treated, before any spread occurs.


Melanoma is the least common of the skin cancers, but it is the most severe. It is the one most likely to spread to other parts of the body. It is rare in people with dark skin. Melanoma occurs when the pigment-producing cells, the melanocytes, are damaged. These cells give skin its colour and darken the skin when it is exposed to the sun. Melanoma can also begin in other tissues that make melanin, such as the eyes and intestines.

This cancer may begin in a mole or as a new growth and is usually dark in colour. If the melanoma is not removed, it can grow deeper into the layers of your skin. These layers have tiny blood vessels and lymph channels, and it can spread to other areas of the body.

There are many other types of skin cancer, but they are much less common. These include Merkel cell carcinoma, Kaposi sarcoma, and Lymphoma of the skin.

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