Melanoma isn’t the only skin cancer

Research we're watching

Published: October, 2017

You probably know to have your skin checked frequently for the signs of melanoma. But you should also be looking out for another, more common type of skin cancer — squamous cell carcinoma. This potentially lethal skin cancer can show up on your skin as a white or pink bump, a non-healing sore, or even a scaly patch. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, cases of squamous cell carcinoma are on the rise, with some 700,000 new diagnoses each year.

"While other skin cancers may be more lethal, they're less common," writes Dr. M. Laurin Council, an assistant professor of dermatology at Washington University in St. Louis. "Squamous cell carcinoma is highly treatable when detected early, so it's important for people to know the signs of this disease and keep a close eye on their skin."

To spot this cancer early, examine your skin regularly and contact your dermatologist if you notice anything out of the ordinary. The good news is if you detect this type of skin cancer early, it is very treatable. And as with other types of skin cancer, you can help prevent it by slicking on some sunscreen, preferably a broad-spectrum formula with an SPF of 30 or higher, before you head outside.

As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.