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Understanding the 3 Basic Types of Skin Cancer

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Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, affecting millions of individuals each year. Early detection and treatment are crucial for a positive outcome, which is why understanding the different types of skin cancer is so important. At MJR Dermatology in Lawrenceville, we are committed to educating our patients about skin health and the prevention, recognition, and treatment of skin cancer. Here’s a concise guide to the three basic types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma.

1. Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)

Basal cell carcinoma is the most common and least aggressive form of skin cancer. It originates in the basal cells, which are located in the deepest layer of the epidermis (the outermost layer of the skin).

Signs and Symptoms:

  • A pearly or waxy bump on the skin
  • A flat, flesh-colored or brown scar-like lesion
  • Bleeding or scabbing sore that heals and then reopens

BCC typically occurs on areas of the skin that are frequently exposed to the sun, such as the face, ears, and neck. While it is slow-growing and rarely metastasizes (spreads to other parts of the body), early detection and treatment are essential to prevent extensive skin damage and disfigurement.

2. Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)

Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common type of skin cancer, arising from the squamous cells found in the middle and outer layers of the skin.

Signs and Symptoms:

  • A firm, red nodule
  • A flat lesion with a scaly, crusted surface
  • New sore or raised area on an old scar or ulcer

SCC can occur on any part of the body, but it’s more likely to develop on areas exposed to UV radiation from the sun or tanning beds. It can be more aggressive than BCC and may spread to other body parts if not treated promptly.

3. Melanoma

Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer, originating in the melanocytes, the cells responsible for skin pigment. It can develop anywhere on the body, in otherwise normal skin or in an existing mole that becomes cancerous.

Signs and Symptoms:

  • A large brownish spot with darker speckles
  • A mole that changes in color, size, or feel or that bleeds
  • A small lesion with an irregular border and portions that appear red, pink, white, blue, or blue-black
  • A painful lesion that itches or burns

Melanoma is known for its ability to spread rapidly to other organs, making it the most deadly form of skin cancer. Early detection through regular skin checks and prompt treatment significantly improves survival rates.

Skin Cancer Prevention and Early Detection

Preventive measures, including wearing sunscreen, seeking shade, and wearing protective clothing, can significantly reduce your risk of developing skin cancer. Additionally, regular skin examinations by a dermatologist are crucial for early detection, especially for individuals with a high risk of skin cancer.

At MJR Dermatology in Lawrenceville, we are dedicated to providing comprehensive skin care, including preventive advice, skin cancer screenings, and state-of-the-art treatment options. If you have concerns about skin cancer or wish to learn more about the types of skin cancer and their treatment, we invite you to schedule a consultation with our experienced dermatologists. Together, we can work towards maintaining your skin’s health and safeguarding your well-being.

Posted on behalf of Matthew J. Reschly, M.D., PC

2000 Riverside Pkwy, Suite 100
Lawrenceville, GA 30043
Located on the lower Courtyard Level

Phone: (678) 535-0067

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Matthew J. Reschly, M.D., PC


2000 Riverside Pkwy, Suite 100
Lawrenceville, GA 30043
Located on the lower Courtyard Level

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(678) 535-0067

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