There are more than one hundred different types of skin cancer, but three - basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma - are the most common:
Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)This is the most common form of skin cancer, accounting for about 90 percent of skin cancers diagnosed each year, and it has the lowest risk of metastasis. Although it is slow to spread, it certainly may do so, and needs to be treated immediately. Because the tumor grows contiguously, once it is excised, the recurrence risk is very low. BCC is 95 to 100 percent curable when caught early. By the way, there's been a sharp rise in both basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas in women under the age of forty (like me). These numbers have increased fourfold in the last thirty years, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)This is the second most common skin cancer, and, like BCC, it is usually located on sun-exposed areas. It also tends to stay localized but may spread and its metastasis is much faster than that of basal cell carcinoma. Interestingly, men are twice more likely to develop squamous cell and basal cell carcinomas than women, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.
MelanomaAlthough it accounts for only 4 percent of skin cancer cases, melanoma is the deadliest form of the disease. According to the American Cancer Society, one American dies of melanoma every hour. In 2008, 8,420 deaths will be attributed to this cancer - 5,400 men and 3,020 women. While there are genetic links to the disease, sun exposure remains the biggest factor we can control. Indeed, the Skin Cancer Foundation has found that women who rarely use sunscreens have twice the melanoma risk of women who always wear sunscreen.