Types Of Skin Cancer

Types Of Skin Cancer Feb 22, 2021 / by Complete Family Dermatology Team

Skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer. Your skin is made up of a variety of cells that all have different jobs. When these cells are damaged, it may develop into skin cancer. There are four major types of skin cancer, which include melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and Merkel cell carcinoma.  In this blog, we are going to cover these four common types of skin cancer and how they occur. 


Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that forms in melanocytes. Melanocytes are the skin cells that produce melanin, which is what allows your skin to darken or tan in the sunlight. These cells darken in response to the sun in order to protect your skin from the harmful effects of UV rays.  Unlike other forms of skin cancer, melanoma is found on parts of your body that aren’t often exposed to the sun, such as the bottom of your feet, your groin, or even in your eyes.

Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer. Out of the three million cases of skin cancer every year, more than 80 percent of them are basal cell carcinoma, according to the American Cancer Society. This type of skin cancer normally occurs in areas that receive the most exposure to the sun, such as your head and neck. Basal cell cancers grow slowly, and it is rare for them to spread throughout the body; however, this may occur if it is left untreated. It is important to catch basal cell cancers early.  Basal cell cancer also may reoccur in the same location where the original cancer was formed later on. If you have been diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma in the past, you have an increased risk of developing basal cell cancer in the future. 

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common type of skin cancer and accounts for about 20 percent of non-melanoma skin cancers. Squamous cell cancer develops from the squamous cells that make up the majority of your epidermis (the top layer of your skin). This type of skin cancer is usually found in areas that have been exposed to the sun, such as the face, neck, ears, or back of the hand. However, it can also develop on other parts of the body, such as scars or skin ulcers.  Squamous cell cancers tend to grow slowly and are unlikely to spread throughout the body. But, they are more likely to spread beneath the skin than other forms of skin cancer. 

Merkel Cell Carcinoma

Merkel cell carcinoma is a rare but aggressive form of skin cancer that begins in the Merkel cells. The Merkel cells contain your skin’s nerve endings and are what provides your skin with the sense of touch. Merkel cell carcinomas tend to be the most common in areas of skin that are exposed to the sun, such as your face or scalp.  You are more likely to develop Merkel cell cancer if you are over the age of 50, and this type of skin cancer can spread to the liver, lungs, bones, and brain.

Final Thoughts

There are four main types of skin cancer. Taking care of your skin and protecting it from UV rays is important to prevent skin cancer. Here at Complete Family Dermatology, we take every measure to ensure that our skin cancer treatments are effective and that we take care of you. To schedule an appointment, give us a call today at 402-423-1111!

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