Skin cancer is by far the most common type of cancer.
If you have skin cancer, it is important to know which type you have because it affects your treatment options and your outlook (prognosis). If you aren’t sure which type of skin cancer you have, ask your healthcare provider so you can get the right information.
AK (Actinic Keratosis)
These dry, scaly patches or spots are precancerous growths.
- People who get AKs usually have fair skin.
- Most people see their first AKs after 40 years of age because AKs tend to develop after years of sun exposure.
- AKs usually form on the skin that gets lots of sun exposure, such as the head, neck, hands, and forearms.
- Because an AK can progress to a type of skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), treatment is important.
BCCA (Basal Cell Carcinoma)
This is the most common type of skin cancer.
- BCCs frequently develop in people who have fair skin, yet they can occur in people with darker skin.
- BCCs look like a flesh-colored, pearl-like bump or a pinkish patch of skin.
- BCCs develop after years of frequent sun exposure or indoor tanning.
- BCC are common on the head, neck, and arms, yet can form anywhere on the body, including the chest, abdomen, and legs.
- Early diagnosis and treatment for BCC is important. BCC can invade the surrounding tissue and grow into the nerves and bones, causing damage and disfigurement.
SCCA/SCC (Squamous Cell Carcinoma)
SCC is the second most common type of skin cancer.
- People who have light skin are most likely to develop SCC, yet they can develop in darker-skinned people.
- SCC often looks like a red firm bump, scaly patch, or a sore that heals and then re-opens.
- SCC tend to form on skin that gets frequent sun exposure, such as the rim of the ear, face, neck, arms, chest, and back. SCC can grow deep in the skin and cause damage and disfigurement.
- Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent this and stop SCC from spreading to other areas of the body.