Types of Skin Cancer

Skin cancers are the most common type of cancer in the U.S. today. They develop when skin cells become malignant and form tumors. Several types of skin cancer exist and include melanoma, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Regular checkups can help identify these cancers at their earliest, most treatable stages.

Melanoma is among the most serious types of skin cancer. It begins in melanocytes, or pigment cells. Melanoma can occur anywhere on the skin but is most commonly found on the head, neck, the torso or lower legs. Although melanoma is uncommon in people with dark skin tones, it can occur and is most likely to be found under the nails or on the palms of the hands or the soles of the feet.

Basal cell carcinoma is one of the most common types of skin cancer. It develops in the basal layer of the skin in the stratum and is usually found on parts of the body that have experienced sun exposure, such as the face, the tops of the ears and the nose. Basal cell carcinoma is most common in people with fair skin but can affect people with all skin tones.

Squamous cell skin cancer begins in the squamous layer of the skin, which is in the epidermis. It is the most common skin cancer in people with darker skin tones and is usually on areas of the body that have been exposed to the sun, including the tops of the feet, the legs and the face. People with fair skin also suffer from squamous cell skin cancer, which may affect the face, head, neck and ears.

The different types of skin cancer can invade healthy skin tissue and can even spread throughout the body. This process, which is called metastasis, occurs when skin cancer cells break away from the tumor and enter the bloodstream. Cancer cells may be found in lymph nodes or develop new tumors in other tissues. While earlier stages of skin cancer often respond to more conservative treatments, metastasized skin cancers can require more aggressive approaches.

Contact our Dr. Ghasri, our skin doctor in Los Angeles, to learn more or to schedule your appointment.