Skin cancer – non-melanoma
One of the most common types of cancer is skin cancer. Non-melanoma skin cancer is a group of cancerous cells developing slowly in the skin’s upper layer. The term non-melanoma distinguishes the more common type of skin cancer from melanoma, which is less common but can be more severe.
The first sign of non-melanoma skin cancer is the appearance of a lump or discolored patch on the skin that is visible even after a few weeks and gradually progresses over months or years; those are cancer or tumor.
Cancerous lumps often turn red and firm and occasionally become ulcers, but the cancerous patches are often scaly and flat. Non-melanoma skin cancer primarily develops in skin areas regularly exposed to the sun, like the face, hands, ears, upper chest, back, and shoulders.
Types of non-melanoma
Non-melanoma cancer often develops in the upper or outermost layer of the skin. The two common types of non-melanoma skin cancer are:
- BCC (basal cell carcinoma) is a rodent ulcer that starts in cells’ bottom lining of the epidermis and accounts for nearly 75% of skin cancer.
- SCC (squamous cell carcinoma) starts in the cells’ top lining of the epidermis and accounts for nearly 20% of skin cancers.
Non-melanoma skin cancer causes
- Overexposure to ultraviolet light
- Already had non-melanoma cancer
- Family history with skin cancer
- Pale skin that burns quickly
- Multiple moles of freckles
- Under medication that suppresses the immune system
- An existing medical condition that can have an impact on your immune system
Reviewed by – Dr. Priyanka, MBBS MD Microbiology
Page last reviewed: 16 JULY 2022