Prominent Types of Skin Cancer

The three most prominent forms of cancer of the skin include squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Less common types of skin cancer include merkel cell carcinoma, sebaceous gland carcinoma, and kaposi sarcoma.

Learn About The Signs, Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Characteristics of Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma is the most commonly diagnosed form of skin cancer. It usually occurs on the face, neck, or other sun-exposed areas of the body and is most often seen in people with fair skin. The carcinoma may present as a brown or flesh-colored lesion or as a bump that appears pearly or waxy.

Characteristics of Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma, the second most common type of skin malignancy, can develop in people of any skin type, but it is prevalent in individuals with fair skin. A squamous cell carcinoma typically starts out as a lesion with a crusty or scaly surface or as a firm, red nodule. In fair-skinned individuals, the carcinoma usually develops on the hands, face, ears, and other sun-exposed areas of the body. In people with darker skin, the nodules or lesions may develop in areas that are not often exposed to sunlight.

Characteristics of Melanoma

Melanoma is an aggressive and potentially deadly form of skin malignancy. The carcinoma often develops in a mole or as a dark spot on the skin. These malignancies typically develop on the trunk or face in males and on the lower legs in females. It is possible for melanoma to develop in areas that are not normally exposed to the sun, including the palms, soles of the feet, and under the fingernails and toenails of individuals with dark skin. It is also possible for the malignancy to affect the mucous membranes of the nose, mouth, anus, or vagina. Melanoma may appear as a mole that changes in size, color, or other characteristics. It can also develop as a large brown spot or lesion with irregular borders and multiple colors.

Less Common Forms of Skin Cancer

Kaposi sarcoma is a rare skin malignancy affecting the blood vessels, characterized by purple or red patches on the skin. Kaposi sarcoma is most often seen in individuals with health conditions that weaken the immune system or those who take immunosuppressant medications. Young men that live in Africa and older men of Jewish or Italian heritage are also at higher risk.

Merkel cell carcinoma normally affects the skin on the neck, head, and trunk. Symptoms of merkel cell carcinoma include firm, shiny nodules located beneath the skin and hair follicles.

Sebaceous gland carcinoma is a rare and aggressive skin malignancy that affects the oil glands of the skin. It most often appears as a hard, painless nodule. The nodules are most common on the eyelid but can occur anywhere.

If you believe you have any of the characteristics or have been diagnosed with any of the mentioned types of skin cancer, be sure to see your dermatologist for immediate treatment.