Nonmelanoma skin cancer includes all sorts of cancer that appear on the skin that are noncancerous. They are the most common skin cancers. They develop gradually in the upper skin layers. They are quite different from the less common melanoma cancers that are cancerous and spread really quickly. The sign of having a nonmelanoma cancer is usually a lump or patch on the skin that doesn’t seem to heal even after several weeks. The treatment will depend on the type of the cancer. However, the most efficient treatment option is surgery to remove the cancer cells.

There are several different types of nonmelanoma skin cancers:

  • Basal cell carcinoma
  • Squamous cell carcinoma
  • Angiosarcoma
  • Cutaneous B-cell lymphoma
  • Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma
  • Dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans
  • Merkel cell carcinoma
  • Sebaceous gland carcinoma
  • Cancer that can spread to the skin from other body areas (breast cancer or mouth cancer)

The most common types are: basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.



The basic sign for nonmelanoma skin cancer is a lump or a discolored patch on the skin that won’t heal. The lumps or discolored patches, which are often referred to as tumors, usually appear on skin areas that are frequently exposed to sun. Those skin areas include the face, ears, hands and shoulders.

Basal cell carcinoma will most often manifest as a small red or pink lump, although sometimes it can also be white. The lump will grow slowly. It can become crusty; it can bleed or develop into a painless ulcer.

Squamous cell carcinoma is usually a firm pink lump with flat, scaly and crusted surface. The lump is tender to touch. It can bleed easily. It can also develop into an ulcer.


The most common cause for nonmelanoma skin cancer is overexposure to sun or exposure to ultraviolet light. UV light can come from the sun, as well as from artificial sunbeds and lamps.

Risk factors

Except exposure to UV light, factors that increase the risk of nonmelanoma skin cancer are:

  • Family history: If there are cases of the condition in the family the chances are higher
  • Pale skin: There is a greater likelihood to develop cancer if the person has pale skin that doesn’t tan quickly, but it burns easily
  • Moles and freckles: The risk of cancer increases if the person has a lot of moles or freckles on the body


The complication that exists with nonmelanoma skin cancers is that they can reoccur, especially if the cancer was severe and widely spread. It is good to learn ways to examine the skin for any possible tumor signs, as well as to visit the doctor regularly in order to monitor the condition.


The main treatment for nonmelanoma skin cancer is surgery. The surgery aim is to remove the cancerous tumor entirely as well as the surrounding skin tissue. Other treatment approaches may include: creams, cryotherapy, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and photodynamic therapy. Treatment of nonmelanoma skin cancer is usually effective and successful and the risk of the cancer spreading to other body parts is really low (which is not the case with other kind of skin cancers). Almost 90% of the nonmelanoma skin cancer treatments have proven to be successful.


It is not always possible to prevent nonmelanoma skin cancer, but it is possible to reduce the risks. Prevention tips include:

  • Avoid exposure to UV light
  • Use sunscreen to protect the skin from the UV lights of the sun
  • Dress sensibly when under the sun
  • Limit time spent in the sun, especially during the hottest part of the day
  • Avoid sunbeds or sunlamps
  • Regularly check the skin for any signs