Skin malignancies are the most common cancer in the United States, responsible for more than half of all new cancer cases. These can be broken down into melanoma and non-melanoma malignancies, which are squamous cell cancer and basal cell cancer. These skin malignancies are caused by ultraviolet radiation from exposure to the sun and tanning beds.
Basal cell cancer is the most common form of skin cancer. It is rarely fatal, but it can be locally aggressive. Squamous cell cancer is the second most common skin cancer. Squamous cell cancer is more aggressive than basal cell cancer and may require extensive surgery depending on location and nerve involvement. Melanoma
is the least common form of skin cancer, but it is responsible for more deaths per year than squamous cell and basal cell skin cancers combined. Melanoma is also more likely to spread and may be harder to control.
Skin cancers usually present as an abnormal growth on the skin. The growth may have the appearance of a wart, crusty spot, ulcer, mole or sore. It may or may not bleed and can be painful. If you have a preexisting mole, any change in the characteristics of this spot - such as a raised or an irregular border, irregular shape, change in color, increase in size, itching or bleeding - are warning signs of melanoma. Sometimes the first sign of melanoma or squamous cell cancer is an enlarged lymph node.