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How to Know Which of the 3 Skin Cancer Types You Have

How to Know Which of the 3 Skin Cancer Types You Have

Skin cancer, the abnormal growth of your body’s skin cells, kills more than two people every hour in America.

It’s the most common type of cancer in the world, and can be caused by factors that include a weakened immune system, overexposure to sunlight, exposure to radiation, and a family history of the condition. 

There are three main types of skin cancer, and understanding which one you have can make getting proper treatment easier and increase your survival rate. 

If you’re concerned you may be at risk of skin cancer, or any other skin condition, trust the expert and personalized medical care available from Dr. Javier Zelaya and the team at Skinworks Dermatology, with three New York City locations.

Types of skin cancer

Skin cancer has three main types:

Basal cell carcinoma

This type of cancer often appears in areas exposed to the sun, like your neck or face. It may appear on your skin as a pearly or waxy bump, a flat, flesh-colored, scar-like lesion, or a scabbing sore that heals and comes back.

Squamous cell carcinoma

This cancer also appears on sun-exposed areas of the body, though people with darker skin may see it in areas without ultraviolet exposure. It shows up as either a firm, red nodule or a flat, crusted, or scaly lesion.


This cancer can appear anywhere on your body, affecting either normal skin or a mole that becomes cancerous. Melanoma can look like:

Other, rare types of skin cancer include sebaceous gland carcinoma, Merkel cell carcinoma, and Kaposi sarcoma. 

Methods of treatment

Treatments for skin cancer depend on the type and its stage of development in your body. Nonsurgical options include: 

Surgical options include excisional surgery, removing the tumor and surrounding healthy skin; Mohs surgery, precise removal of diseased tissue; curettage, a sharp, looped edge for removing cancer cells; and electrodesiccation, an electric needle for destroying cancer cells.

Finding a mole or other skin changes can be scary, but skin cancer is treatable, and we can help. If you think you’re dealing with skin cancer of any sort, call the Skinworks Dermatology office in Maspeth, Chelsea, or Park Slope today or book your appointment online.

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