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Common Skin Cancers and How to Recognize Them

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Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, with 9,500 people diagnosed every day. While it is a serious health concern, the good news is that it is also one of the most treatable AND preventable types of cancer.

One key step in a successful treatment plan is early detection. Let's look at the three most common types of skin cancer and learn how to recognize them.

Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common type of skin cancer. It typically appears on areas of the skin that have been exposed to the sun, such as the face, neck, and arms.

BCC usually appears as a small, raised bump that may be shiny or translucent, and it may have blood vessels visible on the surface. It can also appear as a flat, scaly patch that may be red or brown in color. 

BCC is typically slow-growing and rarely spreads to other parts of the body, but it can still be dangerous if left untreated. 

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common type of skin cancer. It usually appears on areas of the skin that have been exposed to the sun, such as the face, neck, and hands, but it can also develop on other areas of the body.

SCC typically appears as a scaly or crusty bump or patch that may be red or brown in color. It may also have a raised border and a rough, warty surface.

SCC can be more aggressive than BCC and may spread to other parts of the body if left untreated. 


Melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer, accounting for only about 5% of all cases but causing the majority of skin cancer deaths.

It typically appears on areas of the skin that have been exposed to the sun, but it can also develop on areas that are usually covered, such as the soles of the feet, palms of the hands, and under the nails. Melanoma can appear as a new mole or a change in an existing mole.

Knowing the ABCDEs of melanoma can help you identify signs of this type of cancer:

A: Asymmetry – one half of the mole does not match the other half
B: Border
– the edges of the mole are irregular, blurred, or jagged
C: Color
– the mole has uneven coloring, with shades of black, brown, tan, red, white, or blue
D: Diameter
– the mole is larger than a pencil eraser (about 6mm)
E: Evolution
– the mole is changing in size, shape, or color

If you notice any of these signs, it's important to have the mole checked by a dermatologist right away.

Prevention and Early Detection

The best way to manage your risk of skin cancer is to protect your skin from the sun. This means wearing protective clothing, such as hats and long-sleeved shirts, and using sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. It's also important to avoid indoor tanning, which can increase your risk of skin cancer.

Early detection is vital for the successful treatment of skin cancer. Performing regular self-examinations help identify problem areas quickly.

If you notice any unusual bumps or patches on your skin, especially in areas that have been exposed to the sun, it's important to have them checked by a dermatologist.

We can often accommodate same day/next day appointment requests ... give us a call at 757-461-1033 to schedule an appointment.


Integrated Dermatology of Tidewater Integrated Dermatology of Tidewater Integrated Dermatology of Tidewater, located in Norfolk, Virginia, provides comprehensive personalized dermatologic care to patients of all skin types, conditions, and ages. Medical director Jonathan Schreiber, MD, PhD and the entire professional medical team at Integrated Dermatology of Tidewater approach dermatologic exams from the medical root of an issue, and similarly, cosmetic issues from the science of a treatment, using science-based support and results with the treatment services offered to patients.

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