Skin Cancer

skin cancer

What is Skin Cancer?

The word cancer refers to the abnormal and uncontrolled growth of cells that have potential to invade surrounding tissues (skin, fat, bone, etc.) or spread to distant tissues or organs. There are various types and stages of skin cancer and not all are equal in the way they appear, grow or are managed. Sun injure has been implicated in almost all forms of skin cancer, so the majority of skin cancers can be banned with adequate sun protection.

Pre-cancerous lesion

Actinic keratoses are sun induced spots that carry a risk of progressing to become a skin cancer. Actinic keratoses appear as white or red flaky spots in chronically sun exposed areas. While some people might have a few distinct lesions, others may have ‘field actinic damage’ meaning that an entire area is covered with numerous lesions. Treatment is not always necessary and is generally guided by patient factors.

Types of skin cancer

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC)

Basal cell carcinoma is the most ordinary type of skin cancer encountered by dermatologists. They come in a variety of different forms and not all BCCs appear or are treated the same way. While some BCCs appear as a red pimple-like growth, others, like superficial BCCs, can appear as a red, flat, scaly patch of skin. Superficial BCCs can be taken care of with non-surgical options. Morpheic BCCs (also known as sclerosing and infiltrating BCC) are unique in that they may have a scar-like appearance and can grow ‘roots’ in the skin making it harder to treat.

 Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)

Squamous cell carcinoma is another ordinary type of skin cancer. Squamous cell carcinomas differ in how rapidly they grow and how aggressive they can be. Less commonly, SCCs may grow into surrounding nerves. Squamous cell carcinomas on the lip and ears can be more concerning as they are more prone to spreading to other parts of the body.

Bowen’s disease

Also known as in-situ SCC and intraepidermal carcinoma, Bowen’s disease is an early form of SCC where the cancerous cells are limited to the top layer of the skin. They carry a small risk of developing into a full-blown invasive SCC. Various action options are available to treat Bowen’s disease and surgery is not always necessary.


Melanoma is by far the most well-known and publicized type of skin cancer. If detected and treated early, the prognosis of melanoma can be very favorable. As in other types of skin cancer, there are many forms of melanomas and not all appear or behave the same way.