Skin Cancer - Stages and Types of Skin Cancer

Skin cancer occurs when there are abnormalities or uncontrolled growth of cells in the skin tissues. This uncontrolled growth is a result of mutations in otherwise healthy cells. Though skin carcinoma can occur at any location in the body, it is often found in parts that are exposed to the sun's ultraviolet rays, for example, the neck, face, arms, and legs.

What is Skin Cancer?

As the name suggests, skin cancer refers to unwanted and uncontrolled changes in the healthy cells of the skin. The biggest risk factors for skin carcinoma include overexposure to the sun's UV rays, a weak immune system, and exposure to specific chemicals.

There are different types of skin cancer; some are common, while others are rare. Skin cancer is broadly classified into melanoma skin cancer and non-melanoma skin cancer, and non-melanoma type is further classified into basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.

How Common is Skin Cancer?

Skin carcinoma is one of the top 20 cancers worldwide. It is not a very common type of cancer in India. Skin carcinoma can affect any age groups, however, its risk is found to increase with age. All the three main types of skin cancer are relatively more common among individuals aged above 50.

What are the Different Types of Skin Cancer?

Here is detailed information on the different types of skin cancer:

Common Skin Cancer Types

There are three common types of skin cancer affecting patients: basal cell skin cancer, squamous cell skin cancer, and melanoma skin cancer.

Rare Skin Cancer Types

In addition to the common types of skin cancer, there are some rare skin cancer types as well, and these include:

What are the Skin Cancer Stages?

Getting a clear picture of the extent of the spread of skin cancer is highly useful in arriving at a definitive diagnosis and treatment of the cancer. Here are the skin cancer stages as per the staging process.


Skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer and often requires immediate medical attention. Depending on the cell type that it originates from, skin cancer is classified into various types. Some skin cancer types are more aggressive than others. Thus, it is advisable to consult a doctor as soon as any of the symptoms of skin cancer appear.

Frequently Asked Questions

Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer and develops in the melanocytes, the cells producing melanin.

All skin cancers are a result of damage to the DNA of the skin cells. This damage may be caused by a myriad of factors, from overexposure to the sun's ultraviolet rays or hazardous chemicals to having a weaker immune system.

In most cases, skin cancer can be treated with positive health outcomes, and patients go on to live normal lives. However, certain skin cancers are aggressive, and if they are not caught in their early stages and treated appropriately, they can be life-threatening.

Yes, skin cancer can spread to other parts of the body, but only if it is left unchecked and untreated. Skin cancer usually spreads to nearby lymph nodes first and then gradually spreads to different organs in the body. That said, it is important to note that each type of skin cancer has its own metastasis pathway.

Yes, skin cancers are treatable. However, one needs to be mindful of the symptoms and report them to the doctor, as this helps with early detection and appropriate treatment.

Yes, skin cancers can be detected in the early stages, provided you are aware of the symptoms that you need to look out for.

Here is how you examine your skin for signs of skin cancer:

  • Adults should consider examining their skin for signs of cancer every month.
  • While examining your skin, you should pay attention to the changes in the color, size, and shape of the existing moles.
  • Any abnormal growth that is increasing in size and has a pearly and transparent appearance should be brought to the attention of the doctor. Skin cancers are often characterized by a variety of colors, ranging from tan, brown, black, or even multi-colored. If anything seems abnormal, you must consult a dermatologist immediately.
  • Any lesions that do not heal even after three weeks could indicate skin cancer.
  • Also, you need to pay attention to the spots or sores that itch, scab, and bleed continuously.

There are a few measures that you can follow to reduce your risk of getting skin cancer:

  • Avoid UV Exposure: Avoid prolonged sun exposure, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Plan Your Clothing Carefully: To reduce skin cancer risk, opt for clothing covering your arms, neck, and legs. Consider wearing a hat to protect your face and neck areas. Sunglasses can protect your eyes against UVA and UVB rays.
  • Protect Yourself with Sunscreen: Always slather some sunscreen on your skin before leaving home. A good sunscreen with SPF 30 reduces not just your melanoma risk but also the risk of other skin cancer types.
  • Say No To Artificial Tanning: Avoid artificial tanning as it increases your melanoma risk.
  • Self-Skin Exam: Always keep an eye on any mole that is forming or any mole whose appearance is changing.

The appearance of skin cancer depends on the cancer type. For example, basal cell carcinoma looks like a small bump, while squamous cell carcinoma appears like a scaly patch, and lastly, melanoma can look like a raised lump or mole that could be pink, brown, or black in color.