What Is Your Skin Cancer IQ?

Oncology, ONCOLOGY Vol 21 No 6, Volume 21, Issue 6

May is National Skin Cancer Awareness MonthWhat Is Your Skin Cancer IQ?Identifying BCC, SCC, and melanoma

 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 areaRed, scaly patches or bumpsAsymmetrical, mottled patches with notched or blurred borders, typically in tan, brown, or black
SizeTakes many years or months to reach a half-inchCan reach up to three-quarters of an inch to an inchUsually greater than 6 mm
LocationHead, neck, hands, and occasionally on the trunk of the bodyFace, ears, neck, lips, and back of the handsCan occur anywhere on the body, most frequently on the upper back or legs, as well as the head and neck
ProgressionGrows slowly and may bleed, crust over, then the cycle repeatsCan develop into large massesCan appear without warning, or may begin in or near a mole or other dark spot on the skin
Potential for metastasisRare, but can grow into nearby areas and may invade bone and vital structures, such as the eyeCan metastasize, and may be fatal if not treatedCan metastasize, and is deadly if not treated
PrevalenceBCC 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 http://www.aad.org/public/News/DermInfo/DInfoSkinCancerUpdates.htm.