Types of Skin Cancer: Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention

Medically reviewed by Alaga Health · General Practitioner

Written by Nikita Bhalla · Updated Nov 12, 2021

    Types of Skin Cancer: Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention

    There are many types of skin cancer. Each type has different symptoms and appears differently on the skin. All types of skin cancer can be cured with proper treatment. It is important to understand the symptoms for early diagnosis.

    Skin cancer is basically an abnormal growth of cancerous skin cells, that mostly occurs because of the exposure of skin to harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. However, your skin may still develop cancer even if it is not exposed to the sun. If anyone in your family has a history of skin cancer, you are more at risk of developing skin cancer.

    Read on to learn more about the types of skin cancer.

    Types of skin cancer

    The types of skin cancer are classified based on the cells. The two main types of skin cancer are:

    • Keratinocyte carcinoma
    • Melanoma

    Types of skin cancer: Keratinocyte carcinoma

    This type of skin cancer mostly develops on skin that is exposed to UV rays. Without proper treatment, this type of cancer is likely to spread to other parts of your body.

    The two types of skin cancer under keratinocyte carcinoma are:

    • Basal cell carcinoma
    • Squamous cell cancer

    Basal Cell Carcinoma

    Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) develops due to excess sun exposure and tanning. Individuals with fair skin are likely to develop this skin cancer. The symptoms of BCC include:

    • Bleeding
    • Pearl-like bump
    • Patchy skin that has turned reddish

    The best way to prevent BCC is by limiting sun exposure. The cancer is less likely to spread to other parts of the skin. BCC is slow-growing cancer. If you are diagnosed with BCC, your doctor may prescribe medications and creams to apply topically. In severe cases, surgery or radiation therapy are also recommended. Your doctor may even recommend cryosurgery, a type of surgery in which the cancer cells are frozen using liquid nitrogen.

    Squamous Cell Cancer

    After BCC, Squamous Cell Carcinoma is the most common cancer. Like BCC, it also occurs because of excess sun exposure and appears on the areas that are exposed to sun rays such as face, neck, ears, legs, hands, etc.

    The common symptoms of squamous cell cancer include:

    • Rough and crusty skin, dome-shaped bumps
    • Patchy skin

    You are at more risk of developing the cancer if you have fair skin, red or blonde hair, or have excessive exposure to radiation or chemicals.

    Squamous cell carcinoma is fast-growing cancer. Early diagnosis is important for effective treatment. Lack of treatment or delayed treatment can cause the cancerous cells to spread to other body parts including tissues and bones.

    Types of skin cancer: Melanoma

    Melanoma is a serious type of skin cancer. It occurs in the melanocytes, the cells that give color to the skin. Melanomas can occur on any area of your body, but most likely on the areas that are exposed to the sun. That does not mean that it does not grow on the areas that are not exposed to the sun. The common signs and symptoms of melanoma include:

    • Unusual growth of skin pigmentation
    • Sudden change in an existing mole

    Skin cancer can also develop on the soles, genitals, or palms.

    You are more likely to develop melanoma if you have a family history of melanoma, lots of moles, unusual moles, a weak immune system, and history of sunburn.

    ABCDE method

    To prevent melanoma, it is important to monitor your skin and check if you have sudden or unusual moles on your body. If you come across any such moles, talk to your doctor.

    The diagnosis of melanoma can be done with the help of the ABCDE method.

    Here’s what ABCDE of melanoma stands for:

    • A stands for ‘asymmetry’ – Monitor your moles. If you notice your moles are asymmetrical, meaning if you make a line down the middle of your mole, you may notice that both the halves do not match.
    • B stands for ‘border’ – If the borders of your moles are scaly or bumpy, it is an indication of melanoma. Usually the edges of your moles are smooth.
    • C stands for ‘colour’ – Moles are usually brown in colour. If you notice that your moles have different shades of brown, it is an indication of melanoma.
    • D stands for ‘diameter’ – If the moles are larger is size, i.e. more than 6 mm in size, it is an indication that the mole is cancerous.
    • E stands for ‘evolving’ – If you notice that the moles on your body are evolving with every passing day, it is a warning sign of cancer. The change can be in any kind be it shape, size, color, etc.

    Tips to prevent skin cancer

    Taking proper care of your skin helps you protect your skin from developing any types of skin cancer. Here are a few tips you can follow to prevent skin cancer:

    • Harmful UV rays are the common cause of a number of skin cancers. It is important to avoid excess exposure to UV rays.
    • Use good quality sunscreen, not just while stepping out but even if you are indoors. Apply sunscreen at regular intervals.
    • Avoid stepping out in the sun between 10 am and 4 pm. It is said that the sun rays are the strongest between these six hours. While stepping out in the sun wear sunglasses and carry either an umbrella or a hat.
    • If you have a weak immune system, you are more at the risk of developing skin cancer. Make sure you boost your immune system with the help of a healthy lifestyle.
    • If you have any medical history or if you are on any medications, take more precautions as some medications can make your skin sensitive.
    • Take good care of your skin. Monitor your skin regularly. If you notice any unusual changes in your skin or the sudden appearance of any patches or moles, consult your doctor.

    Key Takeaway

    Skin cancer can be classified as either keratinocyte carcinoma or melanoma. To avoid skin cancer, it is recommended to avoid excess exposure to the sun, use sunscreen both outdoors and indoors, and monitor your skin and moles for unusual changes in appearance.

    Learn more about Skin Cancer here.

    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Alaga Health

    General Practitioner

    Written by Nikita Bhalla · Updated Nov 12, 2021


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