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What are basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas, and what do they look like?

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Sponsored Content, By Dr. Liqiao Ma, Photo by Angelo Pantazis

Types of Skin Cancer

While public knowledge about skin cancer, in particular melanoma, has increased in the last several years, less is known about the other more common types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. In fact, many people are not aware that there is more than one type of skin cancer.

Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer in the US, with median age of diagnosis at 68 years old. Although they can grow anywhere, carcinomas are most common on the head and neck. Basal cell carcinomas often appear as a new skin-colored or pink bump that starts to bleed and ulcerate over time. However, it can also look like a pink patch of eczema that does not go away after many months, even years. Thankfully, basal cell skin cancers rarely spread and cause death. If left untreated, however, they continue to grow and can start to invade and destroy local tissue.

Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common type of skin cancer, and also occurs in later years. Like basal cell skin cancers, squamous cell carcinomas are also more common on the head and neck. They usually appear as hard, volcano-like bumps that can be painful. They can also look like a pink patch of rash that does not heal after many months. Unlike basal cell skin cancers that may grow slowly, squamous cell skin cancers can appear suddenly and grow quickly over weeks. Unfortunately, squamous cell carcinoma can invade deeply, spread in the body and cause death.

UV damage from sun exposure is the predominant risk factor for developing basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers. If you have noticed any new or concerning growths, or have had a lot of past sun exposure, schedule an evaluation with your dermatologist.

Tru-Skin Dermatology accepts most medical insurances. Call 512.451.0139 or visit tru-skin.com to schedule your appointment. You can also communicate with us by text at 512.359.3163.


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