Skin Cancer

Did you know?

  • 20% of people in the US will develop skin cancer during their lives
  • More than 3.5 million non-melanoma skin cancers are diagnosed annually in the U.S.
  • Most non-melanoma skin cancer can be cured, especially if treated early
  • Early detection of skin cancer is the key to an excellent outcome (cure)

Learn about spotting skin cancer. If you see a suspicious spot, visit a dermatologist for evaluation without delay. Do not try to diagnose your own.

What are the types of skin cancer?

There are three main types of skin cancer: Basal cell carcinoma, Squamous cell carcinoma and Melanoma.

Basal cell carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer.  It looks like a translucent pink, or whitish bump, and sometimes bleeds or scabs.

Squamous cell carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common type. It can be more aggressive and has the potential to spread toother areas of the body.  Squamous cell carcinoma frequently looks like a rough, red or white scaling raised area, which can also have a central scab or even a “horn”.


Melanoma is potentially the most deadly type. Melanoma doesn’t always arise from a pre-existing mole. Sometimes it can arise on previously normal skin.

Skin cancer, including melanoma, can arise anywhere on the body.

Melanoma, detected and treated early, is a highly curable malignancy.  However, if not, it frequently spreads throughout the body.

New moles that are growing, changing in character/appearance or have symptoms such as itching or bleeding need prompt evaluation by a dermatologist.

How do I prevent skin cancer?

Decrease your chances of developing skin cancer by following these recommendations put forth by The Skin Cancer Foundation:

  • Seek shade or avoid sun altogether between 10 AM-4 PM
  • Do not burn
  • Avoid tanning and never use tanning beds
  • Use protective clothing including a broad-brimmed (5 inch) hat and 100% UV protective sunglasses
  • Use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen (We recommend chemical-free ones with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide with SPF 30 or higher daily)
  • For your face and body use a shot glass amount. For your face, use a teaspoonful
  • Keep newborn babies out of the sun. Use sunscreens (chemical free) on babies 6 months or older
  • Check your skin head-to-toe every month
  • See your dermatologist every year for a professional skin exam

How can I tell when a mole might be a problem?

Think A, B, C, D & E

  • A for Asymmetry If you fold the mole in half, you get two unequal halves
  • B for Border irregularities such as notching or smudging
  • C for Color variability such as variable shades of tan, brown, red, gray, brown, black, blue, white
  • D for Diameter greater than 6 mm or wider than a pencil eraser
  • E for Evolving or any change in size, shape or color, or symptoms such as itching, bleeding, ulceration or pain. Keep in mind any change is significant.

Any of the above can be a sign that the skin lesion in question is a malignant melanoma rather than a mole and should be evaluated by a dermatologist as soon as possible.