The Various Kinds of Skin Cancer: Classifications and Types

The cancers that arise from the skin of the individual mostly due to a development of abnormal cells are referred to as skin cancers. These abnormal cells have the ability to spread to and invade other parts of the body; and there aren’t any major symptoms of the early stages of the cancer.The  area affected by skin cancer  will most probably stand out in comparison to the skin that surrounds it and this should be a clear indication.

Skin like all other body tissues is made of 3 basic cell types- namely basal cells, melanocytes and squamous cells. There are cancers associated to each of these cell types namely- basal cell cancer (i.e. BCC), melanoma and squamous cell cancer (i.e. SCC). Further details and classification of the various kinds of skin cancer are given below:

various kinds of skin cancerActinic Keratoses (AK)

This cancer is generally in the form of scaly, pink or red patchy skin that becomes apparent due to the damage caused by exposure to the UV rays of the sun. If it is left untreated the cancer can develop into the squamous cell carcinoma. Up to 10% of these cancers have been recorded to develop into the SCC, which is why the cancer is sometimes also referred to as a pre-cursor to SCC. In some of the very rare cases it has also been seen that the AK develops into basal cell carcinomas.

Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal cancer is the most common type of skin cancer and is characterised by pink, waxy raised bumps on the skin, red patches, open sores or scars. The basal cells are the deepest lining of the epidermis which is the outermost layer of the skin. This cancer type is only locally invasive and very, very rarely metastasizes or becomes life threatening.


This cancer is the most dangerous form of skin cancer which originates in the melanocytes of the skin (epidermis). It is mostly characterised by black/ brown lesions, which can have irregularities in symmetry. The cancer is curable is diagnosed early but if advanced it is very hard to treat this cancer. Melanoma can further be classified into 4 basic types- lentigomaligna, acral lentiginous melanoma, nodular melanoma and superficial melanoma.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

It is the second most common type of skin cancer (after BCC) which appears as dull rough, red, and scaly skin. This cancer originates in the upper epidermis which is made of squamous cells. The cancer occurs mostly due to sun exposure and also in case of organ transplant. It can be deadly if left untreated.