Skin Cancer Types and Screening Recommendations


When it comes to skin cancer, the more you know the better protected you can be. Summer, with all of its outdoor activities, is a great time to learn more about this all-too-common and often preventable form of cancer.

Identifying Skin Cancer

The sooner skin cancer is detected and treated, the greater your chance for recovery. You should perform a full-body self-exam each month to become familiar with your skin and to identify any changes that could signal skin cancer. You can download a “body mole map” from the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) to learn how to examine your skin and what to look for. If you see anything unusual — a mole or growth that is growing, unusual, bleeding or not like the others — see a dermatologist.screening for skin cancer types

You can also get a free skin cancer screening through the AAD. The AAD offers free skin cancer screenings throughout the United States, usually in the spring. You can sign up to be notified via email when the next free screening will take place in your area.

Three Common Skin Cancer Types [i]

  • Basal cell carcinoma — A slow-growing cancer in the layer just underneath the epidermis, or outer layer of the skin where the basal cells are located. Basal cell carcinoma seldom spreads to other parts of the body.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma — More rare than basal cell cancer, squamous cell carcinoma is in the epidermis. It spreads more often than basal cell carcinoma.
  • Melanoma — The most serious type of skin cancer, it occurs when the melanocytes, the pigment cells in the lower part of the epidermis, become malignant, meaning that they start dividing uncontrollably. If it spreads to the lymph nodes, it may also reach other parts of the body, such as the liver, lungs or brain. In such cases, the disease is called metastatic melanoma.

Other types of skin cancer include Kaposi sarcoma, skin or cutaneous lymphomas and Merkel cell carcinoma. Actinic keratosis is a precancerous skin lesion that can become a squamous cell cancer.

Treatment Options [ii][iii]

If you’ve been diagnosed with skin cancer, your doctor will most likely remove the tumor and some of the surrounding tissue via surgery (excision) or a special procedure called Mohs micrographic surgery. If you have melanoma, your doctor may perform a sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) to help determine the stage.

Then, depending on the type of cancer, its stage [iv][v] and other factors, your doctor may recommend additional treatment. This can include:

You might also be a candidate for participation in a clinical trial, depending on the type of skin cancer you have. Go to and type in “skin cancer” in the Search for Studies box to learn what trials are actively recruiting and click here to search for trials at Sarah Cannon Research Institute.

If you have been diagnosed with skin cancer, follow your doctor’s recommendations for regular check-ups. This will help ensure that any new cases of skin cancer, or a recurrence of one that has been treated, is caught early enough.

[i] National Human Genome Research Institute 
[ii] U.S. National Library of Medicine
[iii] American Academy of Dermatology
[iv] National Cancer Institute
[v] American Academy of Dermatology

8 Responses to “Skin Cancer Types and Screening Recommendations”

  1. Rhys Rawson

    Thanks for the tip about using the “body mole map” from the AAD to examine my skin. I will definitely use it learn what to look for on my skin. However, I do need to go in for a skin cancer screening and be checked for melanoma, as it runs in my family. Great article!

  2. Jamarcus Dantley

    I actually didn’t know that there were different types of skin cancer. Nowadays you have to be extra careful with your skin. Detecting it and getting it treated soon is very much ideal, like you point out. Thanks for sharing this information.

  3. Skin doctor

    It is important to learn the types of skin cancer, so that a person can get the right treatment. Thanks for the post.

  4. Sam Fisher

    I don’t think that people realize how important it is to get screen for skin cancer, well any cancer for that matter. I say skin cancer since it is one of the more common ones and easier to treat. Like you said, there are a handful of treatment options for you to choose from. If you do find yourself with this, then I would for sure talk to the dermatologist for the best course of action.

  5. Jurgita

    Everyone should know how to recognize skin cancer. And this article introduces the fact, so thank you. Yesterday also was reading a similar article „Skin cancer examination and treatment symptoms“. This article also about the signs of the skin cancer and treatment –

  6. Annika Larson

    My family has a long history of skin cancer. I want to make sure I am aware of the different types and symptoms so that I can be educated and get the care I may potentially need in the future. Your suggestion to download the body mole map and examine your skin is a great way to stay aware. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Shirley Steinhart

    I have had 35 radiation treatments and have been left with bumps an discoloration . What do I do?

    • SarahCannon

      Thanks for reaching out to us. If you have any cancer related questions you can contact askSARAH where nurses are available 24/7 to answer your questions. Call 844-482-4812.


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