Skip to main content

Understanding the Different Types of Skin Cancer

Understanding the Different Types of Skin Cancer

More than 5.4 million people in the United States are diagnosed with skin cancer annually, making it the most common type. In fact, there are more new cases of skin cancer diagnosed annually than the combined incidence of breast, prostate, colon, and lung cancer.

At Sterling Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery in Sarasota, Florida, our board-certified plastic surgeon, Dr. Mark Mathieson, performs skin cancer treatments to repair wounds left behind after skin cancer.

Types of skin cancer

You’re probably aware of melanoma as a type of skin cancer, but do you know the signs of other types of skin cancer?


Among the most well-known skin cancers, melanoma only accounts for about 1% of all cancers, but it spreads to other parts of the body easily and causes the majority of cancer deaths. Melanoma begins in the skin cells that produce melanin and can develop anywhere on the skin.

Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma 

While not exactly the same, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are often grouped as “non-melanoma skin cancers.” Both types are more common than melanoma, but they are not as likely to spread to other parts of your body. 

Basal cell carcinoma is an abnormal and uncontrolled growth or lesion in the deepest layer of the skin. Caused by sun exposure, basal cell carcinoma appears as open sores, pink growths, red patches, or scars.

Squamous cell carcinoma typically occurs on body areas exposed to the sun, like your face, ears, lips, neck, or back of hands. Occasionally squamous cell carcinoma forms on the genital area or in scars or skin sores. It appears as rough or scaly red patches that may bleed or as open sores that don’t heal.

Merkel cell tumors

An unusual and rare skin cancer, merkel cell carcinoma starts when the merkel cells within the skin grow uncontrollably. It’s a fast-growing cancer that is hard to treat if it spreads to areas of your body beyond the skin.

When to visit the doctor

In addition to your annual physical, you should visit our team whenever you have changes in your skin like:

People with fair complexions have the greatest risk of developing skin cancer, but everyone should protect their skin when spending time in the sun.

If you have scars or wounds from skin cancer treatment and would like to learn how to improve or reduce their appearance, call Dr. Mathieson or schedule an appointment online.

You Might Also Enjoy...

5 Ways Your Breasts Change After Extreme Weight Loss

5 Ways Your Breasts Change After Extreme Weight Loss

Losing a significant amount of weight loss is something to celebrate, but if post-weight loss breast changes keep you from loving your weight loss results, cosmetic surgery can help. Here are five ways your breasts change after weight loss.
5 Ways to Bolster Your Skin Care Game

5 Ways to Bolster Your Skin Care Game

Is it time to bolster your skin care game before age and sun damage catch up with you? We’ve got everything you need to create a personalized program to protect that youthful glow. Read on to learn more.