Types of Skin Cancer

Skin Cancer is a condition caused due to harsh effects of ultraviolet lights from the Sun. Prolonged exposure to Sun can cause skin cells to grow in a rapid way, leading to the formation of cancer causing tumor. However, what people are unaware of is the fact that all skin cancers are not the same. There are basically three different types of skin cancers that we’ll study further in this post. There’s a vast difference in the symptoms, effects, and treatments of different types of skin cancers.

Basal Cell Skin Cancer

About 7 in 10 people suffering from the condition of skin cancer are diagnosed with Basal cell skin cancer. This is the most common type of skin cancer that you’ll come across. As the name suggests, the cancer develops from basal cells, which are present in the deepest layer of our skin around the hair follicle. This type of cancer develops on the area of the skin which is always or mostly exposed to Sun, seeping in through the harmful UV rays. Basal cell skin cancer is often seen in middle and old aged people.

Basal cell carcinoma is also known as Rodent Ulcer. It starts in the form of a small lump that gradually grows into a bigger one. The edge of the lump is shiny. The mid part of the lump is usually sunken. In most cases, the middle can also become crusty, developing the ulcer This ulcer then breaks down and gets deeper, causing continuous itch and bleeding if scratched. There are several different subtypes of basal cell skin cancers that include

  • Nodular
  • Superficial
  • Morphoeic
  • Pigmented

The symptoms and appearance of all of these subtypes are different from each other. Nodular type is one of the most common subtype of basal cell skin cancer.

Squamous Cell Skin Cancer

The rate of people getting affected from this type of skin cancer is 20%. The cancer affects the cells called Keratinocytes, found in epidermis. The condition develops in the areas of skin that are exposed to Sun for a prolonged period of time. Head, neck and back of the hands are most common areas to get affected in this category. However, a very small number of cases have been reported for the Squamous cell skin cancer developing in vulva and anus. It can also develop in other conditions including:

  • Scars
  • Burnt skin areas
  • Ulcerated areas of skin

Squamous cell skin cancer appears like a crusty and scaly ulcer. In some cases it also looks bumpy and hard. Sometimes, it may spread to connecting lymph nodes and other nearby organs causing secondary cancer cells. Squamous cell skin cancers are relatively faster growing as compared to the basal cell cancers.

Other Non-melanoma Skin Cancer

These are least common or rare type of skin cancers. To be precise, these types of cancers are only found in about 1 person out of every 100. These cancers have different treatment methods, but the chance of relapse is more in them as compared to squamous and basal cell skin cancers. These cancers include:

Merkel cell carcinoma: It is rare and can be treated with surgery or radiotherapy. However, it can spread to nearby lymph nodes and have greater chance of relapse.

Kaposi’s sarcoma: This type of cancer is often associated with HIV infection, but can also occur in people who are not affected with HIV. This type of cancer begins in cells forming the lining of blood vessels in the epidermis. The treatment for this type of cancer includes surgery, radiotherapy or chemotherapy.

T cell lymphoma of the skin: It is also known as primary cutaneous lymphoma. It is a class of non-Hodgkin lymphoma section, generally caused by the mutation of T cells. This type of cancer appears like an itchy rash in the beginning, forming plaque and tumor in the advanced stages.


Melanoma is one of the most deadly and dangerous type of skin cancers. There are no specific reasons associated with the cause of this cancer. It can develop on any part of the body, but legs, arms, and trunk are some of the most commonly targeted areas. If detected at an early stage, it can be treated effectively with chemotherapy or surgery. Symptoms include:

  • Mole
  • Freckle
  • New spots constantly changing color, shape, and size

The best practice to prevent skin cancer is to avoid excessive exposure to UV rays. It is always advised to apply sun block lotions and cover your body parts to prevent excessive exposure to the Sun. If you see any unusual condition flaring up on your skin, it is advised to get it diagnosed for early detection. When detected early, skin cancer is treatable!

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