The 4 Types of Skin Cancer You Should Know About


Skin cancer is much more common than you think. In fact, one out of 5 Americans will develop skin cancer by age 70. When detected early, your dermatologist can treat it and remove it entirely. They can even repair scarring through cosmetic reconstruction. But, before you can even begin healing, you have to know what you are looking for.

There are four main types of skin cancer. They are basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), melanoma, and Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC). Each of these types has its own risks, symptoms, and body locations. What they do share in common are their main causes: harmful ultraviolet rays and the UV from tanning beds.

Basal Cell Carcinoma

BCC is the most common form of skin cancer with more than 4 million people diagnosed in the U.S. every year. It develops on the epidermis in areas such as the ears, scalp, neck, face, shoulders, and back—the places on your skin with the most sun exposure. While it is usually localized, it can metastasize or even become fatal if not detected and treated early.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

SCC develops on much of the same areas of the body as BCC, however it can grow more rapidly and metastasize if not detected early on. SCCs can be found on skin sores, in scars, and are usually near signs of sun damage such as wrinkles and changes in pigmentation. In the United States alone, invasive squamous cell carcinoma is the cause of death for some 15,000 people each year.


As we discussed last week, melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer. Melanomas resemble moles or skin spots and, unlike BCCs and SCCs, can be found anywhere on the body. Know you’re A, B, C, D, and Es of melanoma, do regular body checks, and track your spots to you can steer clear of this deadly form of skin cancer.

Merkel Cell Carcinoma

MCC is much rarer than the other types of skin cancer, but it is very aggressive because it has a high risk of recurrence and metastasizing throughout the body. In fact, there are about 700 deaths a year from MCC. Unlike the other three types of skin cancer, MCC is caused by the Merkel cell polyomavirus, but similarly, it’s found on the areas of the skin most exposed to the sun. In most cases, these lesions or nodules are found on the head, neck, and eyelids.

In each of these four types of skin cancer, one thing is clear: continuous sun or tanning bed exposure are risks not worth taking. If you have concerns about your skin, request a consultation with The Derm Group online or by calling 973.571.2121.