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Types of skin cancer

BMJ Group Medical Reference

There are three main types of skin cancer. The main features of all three are described in the table below. [11] [12] [13] [14] [15]

Melanoma (skin cancer)Squamous cell skin cancerBasal cell skin cancer
How common is it?Least common typeSecond most common typeMost common type
How serious is it?Most seriousSomewhat seriousLeast serious
How do you get it?Linked to bad sunburnLinked to spending time in the sun over many yearsLinked to being in the sun
Will it spread?Most likely to spreadCan spread, but it's not likely toAlmost never spreads
How does it start?Usually starts in a mole; the mole may bleed, change shape or colour, itch, spread or turn into a scabUsually shows up as lumps, or red or brown flaky patches, on your face, arms, legs, body, ears or lips; can start on top of an old scarUsually shows up as small lumps on your head, neck and hands
How long does it take?Can develop quicklyTakes many years to develop, but grows faster than basal cell skin cancerTakes many years to develop
Who is at risk?Younger people are most likely to get itOlder people are most likely to get itOlder people are most likely to get it


For references related to Skin cancer (squamous cell) click here.
Last Updated: January 07, 2011
This information does not replace medical advice.  If you are concerned you might have a medical problem please ask your Boots pharmacy team in your local Boots store, or see your doctor.

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