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Understanding the Different Types of Skin Cancer

Understanding the Different Types of Skin Cancer

You're not alone if you've been diagnosed with skin cancer. One in five Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70. 

Skin cancer is a genuine risk for many. Be sure to have regular screenings at Jordan Valley Dermatology Center with experienced dermatologist Douglass Forsha, MD, and our team. We can screen you for suspicious moles and other skin cancer signs. 

Understanding the different types of skin cancer is vital for making treatment decisions and knowing what to expect. Read on to learn more about the different types of skin cancer and their symptoms.

What is skin cancer, and how does it develop?

Skin cancer is when abnormal skin cells multiply and damage the surrounding healthy skin cells, usually from exposure to ultraviolet light or extreme sun exposure. These damaged cells overgrow and form tumors that can spread into nearby tissues and eventually other body parts if left untreated. 

When we detect damaged cells early enough, we can successfully treat these cancers with excision, photodynamic therapy, or cryosurgery. With regular self-checkups and professional consultations to ensure healthy skin, you can prevent life-threatening illnesses like skin cancer.

The different types of skin cancer 

Skin cancer is dangerous cancer caused by overexposure to UV rays or radiation, and it can happen to anyone, regardless of age or skin color. There are four main types of skin cancer.

Basal cell carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma presents as raised red patches with a waxy or pearly texture and is the most common type of skin cancer. 

Squamous cell carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma has visible hard scales and may ooze or bleed if scratched or injured. 


Melanoma is the rarest form but is also the most dangerous. It appears as spots with different hues, such as brown, red, black, and blue. 

Actinic keratosis (AK)

Actinic keratosis (AK) typically appears as scaly patches on sun-exposed areas like the face or neck. 

Each type requires different treatments for effective management, so it’s best to consult with our team at Jordan Valley Dermatology to identify the type correctly and create an individualized treatment plan.

Risk factors for developing skin cancer

Skin cancer is a serious and potentially deadly disease, but fortunately, you can often prevent it by being aware of certain risk factors. 

Unprotected exposure to the sun without sunscreen, spending a significant amount of time outdoors without covering up, having lighter skin or many freckles, and smoking are all linked with increased risk for skin cancer. 

It's important to wear sunscreen whenever you spend prolonged periods outside, even when it's cloudy. Wearing hats and long-sleeved shirts can help protect your skin from UV rays and significantly reduce the chance of developing skin cancer. 

When in doubt, check with Dr. Forsha to determine any other necessary prevention procedures.

Prevention tips to reduce your risk of developing skin cancer

One of the most important activities you can do to reduce skin cancer risk is staying out of the sun. This means limiting direct exposure to sunlight as much as possible, especially during peak UV hours. Wearing wide-brimmed hats, long-sleeved shirts and pants, and protective eyewear are all effective ways to protect yourself from the sun's rays. 

You should also apply sunscreen regularly with a broad-spectrum SPF. Applying sunscreen helps protect your skin from burning and helps prevent damage that can lead to skin cancer. 

Making sure to check your skin once a month is another way to help detect any signs or symptoms of skin cancer in its early stages and take proactive measures toward treatment if needed.

If you have any questions about skin cancer or want to schedule a screening, please call Jordan Valley Dermatology in South Jordan at 801-335-6728. We’re committed to providing the highest quality dermatologic care to our patients and will work with you to help you achieve healthy, beautiful skin.

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