We’re excited to announce we’ve merged with Grossmont Dermatology


The Three Main Types of Skin Cancer

Posted on: May 23rd, 2023 by Dr. Christopher Crosby

An estimated one in five people will develop skin cancer at some point in their lifetime, which makes skin cancer the top form of cancer in the United States. Since skin cancer is usually caused by UV (ultraviolet) exposure, our best chance of avoiding this cancer is by protecting ourselves from the sun with clothing and sunscreen. The skin cancer experts at Grossmont Dermatology Medical Clinic explain the three most common forms of skin cancer in this blog. 

Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)

BCC is the most prevalent form of skin cancer. With BCC, sun exposure causes a mutation in the DNA of the basal cells, which are cells found in the lower portion of the epidermis. Usually it manifests as a round, flesh-colored bump on the skin. It is more likely to strike people with paler complexions, but people of color can also develop BCC. 

This type of skin cancer usually develops in areas that receive the most sun exposure, like the face, neck, and arms. Treating it early is necessary since BCC can reach deep and start to penetrate the bone and nerves. People who think they have a pimple or eczema that won’t clear up after multiple months should be examined by a doctor.   

Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)

SCC develops when DNA in the squamous cells in the top layer of the skin mutate. SCC looks a lot like BCC: a red bump or scaly patch of skin that forms on areas of the body that get the most sun. It often develops from actinic keratoses (AK), which is a precancerous scaly patch on the skin. Like BCC, SCC is more likely to affect people with light-colored skin, but people with darker complexions can also develop this type of skin cancer. . Because SCC can also grow deeply, it should be treated early to prevent it from spreading to other parts of the body. 


Melanoma develops in the melanocytes, the cells that produce skin pigmentation. Ultraviolet damage to the melanocytes triggers new melanin production and abnormal cellular growth. Melanoma usually looks like a dark black or brown spot. It can affect people of all skin colors. Although much less common than BCC and SCC, melanoma is arguably the most dangerous form of skin cancer because it can spread more quickly. 

Receive a Diagnosis or Treatment in La Mesa

If you have skin cancer or are concerned about a growth on your skin that may be cancerous, please make an appointment at Grossmont Dermatology Medical Center to receive prompt care. Our outstanding team of doctors know how to help prevent cancer from spreading and keep you healthy despite abnormal cellular growth. Call (619) 462-1670 today.

Coastal Skin & Eye Institute/Grossmont Dermatology