Updated 26 May 2015

Types of skin cancer

Exposure to sunlight can increase your risk of developing skin cancer. The types include basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma.

Exposure to sunlight can increase your risk of developing one or more of the three types of skin cancer. The types include basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma.

Basal cell carcinoma

- Basal cell cancer, also called rodent ulcer, is caused by exposure to the sun.
- There are five clinical types - nodulo-ulcerative, superficial, pigmented, morpheaform and keratotic.
- The most common form - nodulo-ulcerative - consists of a raised, round lesion with small blood vessels concentrated around it and often a central ulcer.
- Treatment is by scraping the tumour out, full surgical excision, sometimes X-ray treatment or imiquimod (aldara).
- After incomplete removal, basal cell cancer can recur in the same place up to 10 years after treatment.
- Sun exposure is the single most important cause of this skin cancer.
- However, basal cell cancer can also arise in areas of skin with chronic scarring or X-ray damage.

Squamous cell carcinoma
- Squamous cell carcinoma is easy to cure, provided it's diagnosed at an early stage.
- If not diagnosed early, it tends to spread to the lymphatic system and other tissue cells, requiring the removal of lymph glands.

- About 5 - 10 percent of all skin cancers are melanoma.
- It is a very aggressive type of cancer.
- It can spread to other tissue cells at an early stage.
- The chances of recovery depend on how deeply the lesion has penetrated the skin. In cases where the penetration is less than 0,75mm, the chance of recovery is about 100 percent. With a lesion deeper than 4mm, the chance of surviving ten years or longer is less than 15 percent.

Read more:

What is skin cancer?

Diagnosing skin cancer

Preventing skin cancer


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