3 Most Common Types of Skin Cancer and How to Identify Them
There are many different types of skin cancer, but the most common are the following three:
Squamous Cell Carcinoma – Around 20% of skin cancers are due to squamous cell carcinoma. This type of cancer develops on areas of the skin that are regularly exposed to the sun or from another type of skin condition known as actinic keratosis. Squamous cell carcinoma presents as red, scaly patches on the skin that are often raised.
Basal Cell Carcinoma – Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of cancer in any part of the body. This type of cancer cell does not generally spread to other parts of the body unless it goes unnoticed for a long period of time. Basal cell carcinoma is characterized by raised pink bumps that can easily bleed after a minor injury.
Melanoma – Melanoma is less common than squamous and basal cell carcinoma, but is much more dangerous due to the speed at which it can spread. Melanoma presents as a black or brown growth on the skin that is often asymmetrical and without a clearly defined border. Moles are a benign form of tumor that resemble melanoma, and doctors advise people with a lot of moles to frequently check them for signs of change. Although melanoma is a more serious form of skin cancer, it can still be treated successfully if caught early.
Some other types of skin cancer include Kaposi sarcoma, Merkel cell carcinoma, and cutaneous lymphoma, but these forms are extremely rare and account for less than 1% of all skin cancer diagnoses.
How to Identify Skin Cancer
It's important to closely examine your skin for any new or changing moles or growths, and to do so on a regular basis. When checking your body for skin cancer, doctors advise the following ABCDE rule:
Asymmetry – Healthy moles should be round and symmetrical.
Border – A clearly defined border is common in healthy skin growths and should not be blurred or faded.
Color – Pay attention to the color of your moles. Any that contain several shades of black, brown, or blue should be examined by a dermatologist.
Diameter – Any moles larger than a ¼ inch in diameter may need to be looked at by a professional.
Evolving – If you have a mole or skin growth that is changing in shape, size, or color, make an appointment with a trained dermatologist immediately for further examination.