How to Spot the Three Main Types of Skin Cancer

UV (ultraviolet) radiation is a type of energy found in sunlight and from artificial sources like tanning beds. The radiation is believed to be the primary cause behind sunburns and skin cancers, as exposing yourself to too much of it alters the DNA of skin cells, which may cause them to mutate abnormally, resulting in cancerous growths. UV rays are usually strongest during the summer months, which is why the team at our dermatology office, South Jersey Skin Care & Laser Center, emphasizes the importance of being vigilant about protecting your skin during this time. When it isn’t treated, skin cancer can spread and become disfiguring or even deadly. Fortunately, the disease is highly preventable, and early detection can significantly increase the likelihood of a successful cure.

If you’re concerned about a mole, see a dermatologist to have it checked.

Here are some common warning signs of each of the three main types of skin cancer: melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma.


Though not as common as the other types, melanoma is the most serious and aggressive form of skin cancer. This type affects the pigment-producing melanocytes in the top layer of skin. The “ugly duckling sign,” meaning a mole doesn’t look like any others around it, is one thing to watch out for. Keep the ABCDE rule in mind when checking for melanomas.

Asymmetry: One side doesn’t match the other.

Border: The outline is irregular and scalloped.

Color: Multiple colors or unusual colors like red and blue appear.

Diameter: The mole is larger than a pencil eraser.

Evolving: New symptoms and growth continue to occur.

Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)

The most frequently occurring form of skin cancer, BCC develops in the basal cells of the lower epidermis. BCC typically causes open sores, red or shiny lesions, and elevated bumps with a central indentation. You may also experience oozing, crusting, itching, or bleeding.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)

This form of skin cancer develops in the cells of the middle and outer part of the skin. It typically causes flattened, rough, scaly, crusted patches of skin with a reddish or brownish color.

Any growths or lesions with the characteristics mentioned above should be examined by a dermatologist.

For more tips on skin cancer diagnosis and treatment, contact South Jersey Skin Care & Laser Center by calling (856) 810-9888 to schedule a consultation at our practice serving Hammonton and Mount Laurel, New Jersey. You can also submit an online contact form.