Skin Cancer

Types of Skin Cancer

Once skin cancer is found, more tests may be done to see if the cancer has spread. This is called cancer staging. A doctor needs to know the stage and type of skin cancer to plan skin cancer treatment. The following types are used to plan skin cancer treatment:

Basal cell cancer

Basal cell cancer is the most common type of nonmelanoma skin cancer. It usually occurs on areas of the skin that have been in the sun. Often basal cell cancer appears as a small raised bump that has a smooth, pearly appearance. Another type of basal cell cancer looks like a scar, and it is firm to the touch. Basal cell cancers may spread to tissues around the cancer, but it usually does not spread to other parts of the body.

Squamous cell carcinoma

Squamous cell tumors also occur on areas of the skin that have been in the sun, often on the top of the nose, forehead, lower lip, and hands. Squamous cell carcinoma may also appear on areas of the skin that have been burned, exposed to chemicals, or had x-ray therapy. Often this cancer appears as a firm red bump. Sometimes the tumor may feel scaly or bleed or develop a crust. Squamous cell tumors may spread to the lymph nodes in the area (lymph nodes are small bean-shaped structures that are found throughout the body; they produce and store infection-fighting cells).

Actinic keratosis

Actinic keratosis is a skin condition that is not cancer, but can change into basal cell or squamous cell skin cancer in some people. It appears as rough, red or brown, scaly patches on the skin, usually in areas that have been exposed to the sun.

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