Skin Cancer Risks

There are many different forms of skin cancer and they can all appear very different from one another.

There are three major types of skin cancers treated by the physicians of Comprehensive Cancer Centers, which are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and malignant melanoma. The most serious of the three is malignant melanoma, which is also the most likely to spread to other parts of a body. Malignant melanoma is challenging to treat as well, with basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas more treatable. For all skin cancers, early detection is key to ensuring more successful treatment outcomes.

Additionally, there is more to skin cancer than these main three types, which do account for 99% of skin cancer cases diagnosed each year. While other skin cancers are rare, it’s good to know more about them to ensure early diagnosis. If these cancers are suspected, it’s important to have whatever presents reviewed more closely by your doctor, and if necessary, the experienced skin cancer oncology team at Comprehensive Cancer.

Common Forms of Skin Cancer:

Squamous cells: These are flat cells in the outer part of the epidermis. When these cells grow out of control, they can develop into squamous cell skin cancer.

Basal cells: These cells are in the lower part of the epidermis. These cells constantly divide to form new cells to replace the squamous cells that wear off the skin’s surface. As these cells move up in the epidermis, they get flatter, eventually becoming squamous cells. Skin cancers that start in the basal cell layer are called basal cell skin cancers or basal cell carcinomas.

Melanoma: Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that develops when melanocytes (the cells that give the skin its tan or brown color) start to grow out of control.

Other Forms of Skin Cancer:

Merkel Cell Carcinoma (MCC) is a skin cancer that usually appears as a firm, pink, red, or purple lump on the skin that can often be dismissed as moles or age spots. And as they are often painless, those with this rare condition may dismiss it and not have potential cases of MCC reviewed by their doctor or dermatologists in greater depth. This cancer is fast growing and especially difficult to treat if left undetected.

Kaposi Sarcoma (KS) is a skin cancer that develops on the inside of the mouth, with darkish/purple-colored tumor (or lesions) often not causing any symptoms. As with MCC, this cancer often goes ignored or dismissed as something more related to dental care. This skin cancer grows rapidly when not being treated, spreading quickly as a result.

Another challenge with KS is that it often is found in underrepresented populations and is known in these situations by the following names: Epidemic (AIDS-related) Kaposi sarcoma; Classic (Mediterranean) Kaposi sarcoma, Endemic (African) Kaposi sarcoma, Latrogenic (transplant-related) Kaposi sarcoma and Kaposi sarcoma in HIV negative men.

For those in these groups, it’s important to ask about these cancers specifically, should you notice potential symptoms.  By listing these names to your doctor with detail, you can be better assured your examiner will looks more closely to confirm any potential problems.

Detecting All Types of Skin Cancer

As noted, for any kind of skin cancer, the best treatment outcomes result from early diagnoses. This can be challenging as many cancers do not start as something painful, and with a lack of pain, often people dismiss health issues.

When you are examining yourself for any skin abnormalities, make sure to remember and follow the ABCDE checklist:

  • Asymmetry: One half of a mole does not match the other half
  • Border irregularity: The edges of a mole are ragged or notched
  • Color: The color of a mole is not the same all over. There may be shades of tan, brown or black and sometimes patches of red, white or blue
  • Diameter: A mole is wider than one half of an inch
  • Evolution: Change of the mole over time

Skin Cancer Treatment at Comprehensive

If you find any of the listed irregularities on your skin, be sure to see your physician and/or dermatologist as soon as possible. Should a closer look at bumps, lesions in the mouth or irregular moles reveal cancer, skin cancer treatment options are different for different stages of skin cancer, but may include chemotherapy, radiation therapy or surgery. Each treatment option may be used alone or in combination with others.

Comprehensive Cancer Centers strives to provide quality care to skin cancer patients using the highest standards, newest technologies and latest in clinical research. To schedule an appointment with a physician at Comprehensive Cancer Centers regarding skin cancer screenings or treatment, call 702-952-3350.


The content is this post is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.