What Is Your Skin Cancer IQ?

What Is Your Skin Cancer IQ?

  Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) Melanoma


Small, shiny bumps or nodules that are red, pink, or white; persistent, nonhealing sore; reddish flat patch; or a scar-like white or yellowish area Red, scaly patches or bumps Asymmetrical, mottled patches with notched or blurred borders, typically in tan, brown, or black
Size Takes many years or months to reach a half-inch Can reach up to three-quarters of an inch to an inch Usually greater than 6 mm
Location Head, neck, hands, and occasionally on the trunk of the body Face, ears, neck, lips, and back of the hands Can occur anywhere on the body, most frequently on the upper back or legs, as well as the head and neck
Progression Grows slowly and may bleed, crust over, then the cycle repeats Can develop into large masses Can appear without warning, or may begin in or near a mole or other dark spot on the skin
Potential for metastasis Rare, but can grow into nearby areas and may invade bone and vital structures, such as the eye Can metastasize, and may be fatal if not treated Can metastasize, and is deadly if not treated
Prevalence BCC accounts for 80% of all skin cancers (more than 800,000 new cases each year). SCC accounts for 16% of all skin cancers (approximately 250,000 new cases each year). About 2,500 deaths from SCC are expected during 2007. Melanoma accounts for 4% of all skin cancers (approximately 59,940 new cases each year). More than 8,110 melanoma deaths are expected during 2007.

Adapted, with permission, from the American Academy of Dermatology’s “Actinic Keratoses and Skin Cancer,” available at

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