There are three main types of skin cancer. The most common type is called basal cell carcinoma. Different types of skin cancer are named for the skin cell where cancer develops. Basal cell carcinoma develops in the basal cells. It is the least dangerous as well as the most common. It grows slowly, usually on the neck, upper torso, or head. It may appear as a bump or dry and scaly skin. It may be pale, pearly, or red in color. When it grows, it may look like an infected sore. These cancers tend to develop on sun-exposed areas. Basal cell carcinoma rarely develops in other parts of the body. If it is not treated, it can grow into adjacent areas and into surrounding tissue or the bone. If not removed completely, basal cell carcinoma can return to the same place.
Another type of skin cancer is called squamous cell carcinoma. This type of cancer commonly appears on sun-exposed areas of the body, including the lips, neck, ears, face, and back of the hands. It takes several months to develop and may become red, thick, and scaly. It may form a crust and bleed easily if bumped or scratched. It can also develop on chronic skin sores or on scars. Squamous cell cancers grow into the deeper layers of skin and spread to other parts of the body.
Melanoma is not as common as basal or squamous cell cancers but it may spread quickly throughout the body if it is left untreated. It can grow quickly and can become life-threatening in as little as six weeks. If it is not treated, it can spread to other parts of the body. It is usually flat with an uneven smudgy outline. It may be blotchy and brown, blue, black, grey, or red. The signs of melanoma are an uneven border, asymmetrical shape, uneven color, and size larger than seven millimeters in diameter.
Nodular melanoma is a very dangerous form of melanoma and looks different from common melanomas. Nodular melanoma is raised above the surface of the skin and has an even coloring of red, brown, black, or pink. It grows very quickly and should be treated immediately.
Skin cancer can usually be identified by the way it stands out as being different from the surrounding skin. If you have a spot that strikes you as being different, you should take it seriously and have it checked out by our specialist.