Skin Cancer Rate Increasing

Medical Author: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

The two most common kinds of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. (Carcinoma is cancer that begins in the cells that cover or line an organ.) Basal cell carcinoma accounts for more than 90% of all skin cancers in the United States. It is a slow-growing cancer that seldom spreads to other parts of the body. Squamous cell carcinoma also rarely spreads, but it does so more often than basal cell carcinoma. However, it is important that skin cancers are found and treated early because they can invade and destroy nearby tissue.

Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are sometimes called non-melanoma skin cancer. Another type of cancer that occurs in the skin is melanoma, which begins in the melanocytes.