Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Skin cancer types

The skin is made of a variety of cells, many of which are in constant motion. Round basal cells below the surface flatten as they rise to replace dead, flaking squamous cells on the surface. Melanocytes tan the skin in the sunlight, and Merkel cells give skin its ability to sense touch. When these cells become damaged, they may develop into skin cancer.

cancer types

Squamous cell carcinoma

These cancers are the second most common type of skin cancer, accounting for approximately 20 percent of non-melanoma skin cancers. They develop from the flat squamous cells that make up much of epidermis, the outermost layer of the skin.

This type of skin cancer is usually found on areas of the skin that have been exposed to the sun, such as the neck, ears, face or the back of the hand, but they may develop in other areas, such as in scars, skin ulcers or the genital region. Squamous cell cancers usually grow slowly, and it is uncommon for them to spread, or metastasize. But they are more likely than basal cell carcinomas to invade fatty tissue beneath the skin or to spread even further.

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We understand you may be feeling overwhelmed with questions and concerns about your type of cancer and what it all means. We're here to help guide you through the process.

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Skin cancer infographic

skin cancer infographic

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. Early diagnosis and intervention may improve the chances of overcoming the disease. Learn more about skin cancer types and treatment options.