Lawrence A. Schiffman, D.O., FAOCD - Board Certified Dermatologist

Lawrence A. Schiffman, D.O., FAOCD - Board Certified Dermatologist


The 3 Main Types of Skin Cancer

Published May 5th, 2017 by Sahil

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month


While we’re big advocates of skin cancer protection, we realize skin cancer is a reality that affects 1 in 5 Americans in their lifetime. At Miami Skin Dr, your Miami dermatologist, want to raise awareness that this month (May) is skin cancer awareness month!


For the next 4 weeks, we will be sharing valuable information about skin cancer, signs and symptoms of skin cancer to watch for, treatment options for skin cancer, and melanoma skin cancer and treatment. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any skin cancer treatment questions.


There are 3 main types of skin cancer: Basal Cell Carcinoma, Squamous Cell Carcinoma, and Melanoma.

1. Basal Cell Carcinoma Skin Cancer (BCC):

The most common but least dangerous type of skin cancer. BCC develops after years of frequent exposure to UV-rays through sun or indoor-tanning. It looks like a pearl-like, flesh-colored bump or a pinkish patch of skin. It’s most commonly found on the head, neck, and arms but can be formed anywhere on the body. BCC is most often develop by people with fair-skin but can occur in people with darker skin. Although BCC is the least dangerous, early detection and treatment can prevent the cancer from growing into the nerves and bones, causing disfigurement and damage.

2. Squamous Cell Carcinoma Skin Cancer (SCC):

People with light-skin are most at risk of developing SCC. It tends to form on skin that gets frequent skin exposure such as the neck, arms, and face. SCC most often looks like a scaly patch, a red firm bump, or a sore that heals and re-opens. If not detected and treated early on, SCC can cause damage and disfigurement by growing deep into the skin.

3. Melanoma Skin Cancer:

Melanoma is the rarest and deadliest skin cancer type. It develops as a mole on the skin. Use the ABCDE warning signs of melanoma to help detect melanoma:


  • A: Asymmetry

    • One-half of the mole will differ from the other half

  • B: Border

    • Irregular, poorly-defined, or scalloped border

  • C: Color

    • The mole will not be an even color. It will vary in shades of black, brown, or tan or sometimes will be red, white, or blue.

  • D: Diameter

    • Melanomas are usually bigger than 6mm, which is the size of a pencil eraser.

  • E: Evolving

    • The mole will change in shape, color, or size and will look different than benign moles.

So what are the treatment options for skin cancer?

Skin cancer excision treatment (or skin cancer resection) is a surgical treatment used to treat skin cancer quickly, with little pain, if the skin cancer is caught early.

Depending on the size of the cancer, treatment can be done in the doctor’s (or dermatologist’s) office as an outpatient procedure using local anesthesia.


The cancerous area is removed during excision along with some healthy skin tissue surrounding the area (margins). After the cancer is removed, the incision is sealed together by stitches (sutures). The stitches remain in place for one or two weeks depending on the size of the area, and patients are advised to not aggravate the incision by avoiding heavy lifting or anything else that may cause stress to the stitches. The skin cancer excision may leave a small scar that will heal over time. All types of skin cancer can be cured using a surgical excision with great success.

Medical Cannabis for Skin Cancer

Besides the options of surgery and radiation, topical forms of medical marijuana can be used to treat skin cancer. Topical forms of cannabis, such as creams, gels, and oils, do not give the “high” that marijuana is commonly associated with.


The combination of THC and CBD triggered the death of melanoma cells in recent studies by facilitating autophagy and apoptosis, two natural processes of cell death. Medical marijuana is a safe, noninvasive, and natural treatment option for patients suffering from not just skin cancer but other skin disorders as well.

For more information about skin cancer treatment or melanoma cancer treatment in Miami, book an appointment here or call us on 305.615.2440.

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