Utah Cancer Control Program A Unified Cancer Prevention Approach

What is skin cancer?

Skin cancer is cancer that develops in the layers of the skin. It is usually in areas that are exposed to the sun and can usually be seen or felt on the skin. Skin cancer may cover a large area, or look like a small spot. Even small spots can be dangerous because they can spread under the skin and infect other areas.

There are several different types of skin cancer. The most deadly is melanoma. Other common types of skin cancer include basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma.


Melanoma is the most deadly type of skin cancer. It can take many shapes and appearances. Melanoma is usually a dark color like brown, blue, or black. Other signs to look for include:

  • Irregular borders
  • Asymmetry (one half looks different than the other half)
  • Size: melanomas are usually large (bigger than a pencil eraser)

Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal cell carcinomas can be treated easily if found early. They can be red, pink, or white in color. Some are a patch of color while others are bumps which often appear shiny. Sometimes this type of cancer causes sores that never completely heal, or come back shortly after healing.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma usually takes on one of two forms. It may be a rough patch, or can look and feel like a wart.

For more information, please visit the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health:

FAQ about Skin Cancer