Which Type of Skin Cancer Is Most Common? A blog discussing the different types of skin cancer.


Skin cancer is the most common form of human cancer in the United States. More than 1 million skin cancers are diagnosed annually, and the number of cases continues to rise. There are three main types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma. In this post, we’ll look at the incidence, causes and treatments for each type of skin cancer.

Basal cell carcinoma accounts for about 8 out of 10 skin cancers. Basal cells line the deepest layer of the epidermis (the outermost layer of the skin). Though rarely fatal, basal cell carcinomas can cause significant damage by growing into nearby tissue. They most commonly appear on areas exposed to the sun, such as the head, neck or back of the hands. They may take on many different forms including a small red patch, a raised bump, or a sore that doesn’t heal within several weeks.

The vast majority of basal cell carcinomas can be cured with surgery or radiation therapy. If left untreated, they may grow larger and more frequent over time.

Squamous cell carcinoma accounts for about 2 out of 10 skin cancers. Squamous cells make up much of the top layer of skin (the epidermis). These cancers usually develop in areas

When it comes to skin cancer, what’s the most common type?

The answer might surprise you.

In fact, it’s not a cancer at all.

The most common type of skin cancer is called basal cell carcinoma. It accounts for about 80 percent of all skin cancers in the United States.1

Basal cell carcinoma also goes by basal cell epithelioma, basal cell carcinoma basocellulare, and BCC. It is a form of non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC).2 NMSCs are those cancers that arise from the keratinocytes in the outermost layer of your skin. The other type of NMSC is squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), which accounts for around 20 percent of all skin cancers in the US.1

These two types of NMSCs account for nearly 100 percent of all skin cancers, which means they far outnumber melanomas — a more serious but less common form of skin cancer — as well as other forms of skin cancer combined.3

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. It is also one of the most preventable forms of cancer. You can greatly reduce your risk of skin cancer by protecting your skin from the sun and avoiding tanning beds.

Skin cancer begins in your skin’s top layer, called the epidermis. The epidermis contains three types of cells: Squamous cells lie just beneath the outer surface and are flat, scaly cells that can become cancerous; basal cells lie underneath the squamous cells and produce new skin cells as old ones die off; melanocytes produce melanin, which gives your skin its color. Most cases of skin cancer begin in either squamous or basal cells. Melanoma begins in melanocytes and is much less common than basal cell or squamous cell carcinoma but also more likely to spread to other parts of your body.

While skin cancer can develop in anyone, it is most common among people who have fair skin and spend a lot of time outdoors, particularly without sunscreen. It is also more likely to develop in people who have a history of sunburns or frequent severe tans.

Among the three main types of skin cancer, basal cell cancer and squamous cell cancer are the most common, accounting for more than 95 percent of all skin cancer cases. Melanoma accounts for about 1 percent of all skin cancers but causes about 75 percent of skin cancer deaths.

The best way to prevent melanoma is to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. This includes avoiding indoor tanning beds as well.

When caught early, melanoma has a high cure rate. That’s why it’s important to perform monthly self-skin exams and schedule regular screenings with a dermatologist.

Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer. It is also the most common type of cancer overall. In fact, experts believe that more than 4 million cases are diagnosed in the United States each year.

Squamous cell carcinomas are the second most common form of skin cancer. They may look like red, scaly patches on sun-exposed areas such as your face, ears and hands, or like warts or sores that don’t heal. Unlike basal cell carcinomas, these growths can spread to other parts of the body and become life-threatening.

Melanoma is the most deadly form of skin cancer. Melanomas can appear anywhere on the body, emerging from an existing mole or arising as a new spot. They can be brown, black or multicolored. If detected early, they can often be removed with minor surgery, but they can spread to other organs and become fatal if left untreated.

You can greatly reduce your risk of developing skin cancer by using sunscreen and avoiding tanning beds. You should also take care to wear clothing that covers your arms and legs when you go outside, especially if you live in a sunny climate or will be spending extended time outdoors.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer.

Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer. It develops when pigment-producing cells (melanocytes) mutate. These cells are found in the lower part of the epidermis, which is the top layer of skin. Usually, melanoma begins as a new spot on normal-appearing skin or a change in an existing mole. The vast majority of melanomas occur on normal skin, though they can also develop from preexisting moles.

Melanoma can spread to other parts of the body if not treated early. While it accounts for only about 1 percent of skin cancer cases, it causes a large majority of skin cancer deaths.

As with any form of cancer, early detection significantly increases survival rates for melanoma.


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