Understanding the 3 Most Common Types of Skin Cancer

Mar 02, 2024
Understanding the 3 Most Common Types of Skin Cancer
Skin cancer is the most common skin cancer in the world. Understanding the three most common types of skin cancer helps you protect yourself from it and enables you to identify it early when it is most treatable.

Skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States and the world. Early detection is key to effective treatment.

When you protect yourself with knowledge and awareness regarding skin cancer, you can avoid its development and get the care you need if it should develop. 

Dermatologist Kelly Kinsley, MD, of North Pacific Dermatology & Aesthetics, wants you to know the following information about the three most common types of skin cancer. This essential information can help preserve your skin's health and potentially save your life. 

About basal cell carcinoma 

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common form of skin cancer, with about 3.6 million cases diagnosed in the United States each year. BCC usually appears on sun-exposed areas such as the face, scalp, ears, and neck.

It may look like a pearly or waxy bump, a flat, flesh-colored lesion, or a sore that fails to heal. While BCC grows slowly and rarely spreads to other body parts, early detection and treatment are crucial to prevent further progression and minimize scarring.

About squamous cell carcinoma 

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common type of skin cancer. It’s characterized by abnormal growths in the squamous cells of the skin's upper layers. 

Often appearing as red, scaly patches or raised lumps, SCC lesions may develop on sun-exposed areas or areas of chronic injury or inflammation. Unlike BCC, SCC can metastasize and spread to other organs if left untreated. This is why getting a prompt diagnosis and treatment from a dermatologist like Dr. Kinsley is so important.

About melanoma

Melanoma is less common than BCC and SCC, but it poses the most significant threat to skin health. Melanoma has an aggressive nature and is likely to metastasize or spread to other areas of your body.

Originating in the melanocytes, the pigment-producing cells of the skin, melanoma can develop from pre-existing moles or appear as new, abnormal growths. Key warning signs of melanoma include the ABCDEs of moles: 

  • Asymmetrical or irregular shape
  • Border irregularity
  • Changes in color
  • A diameter of 6 millimeters or greater
  • Evolving characteristics, including size or texture

Melanoma may also present with moles that itch, bleed, or ulcerate. Early detection and timely treatment are critical in combating melanoma and helping you achieve a full recovery.

How to protect your skin

Knowledge about skin cancer is important because it teaches you the importance of taking proactive prevention and early detection measures. 

Practice sun safety by wearing broad-spectrum sunscreen of SPF 15 or greater, seeking shade during peak sun hours, and wearing protective clothing, including hats and sunglasses. 

Stay diligent and perform regular skin self-examination to monitor for any changes or suspicious lesions. You should also schedule annual skin cancer screenings with our office for comprehensive evaluation and peace of mind.

Take charge of your skin health today. Call  North Pacific Dermatology & Aesthetics or use this website to schedule your appointment. We partner with you to promote skin health.