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The types of skin cancer

The types of skin cancer

There are 3 different types of skin cancer – basalioma (a basal cell tumor, carcinoma basocellulare),  squamous cell carcinoma (carcinoma planocellulare, s. carcinoma spinocellulare) and melanoma. These 3 types of skin cancer have different etiology and pathogenesis. Each type is derived from another cell group. Basalioma and squamous cell carcinoma are derived from epithelium cells and melanoma is derived from pigment cells of skin. Both basalioma and squamous cell carcinoma are also classified as “nonmelanoma”. Nonmelanoma skin cancer originates mostly in the epidermal germinative keratinocytes or adnexal structures.

Basalioma is the type of skin cancer which occurs most often. Minimally invasive superficial basal cell tumors are very common. Basalioma originates from basal cells of the epithelium. The average age of patients with this type of skin cancer is about 60 years. Approximately the same number of men and women suffer from this type of skin cancer. Basalioma grows slowly. Most often it occurs on patients head or torso. Untreated basalioma evolves through skin and deeper tissues – bones, cartilages. After radical surgery patient is strongly recommended to go through medical observation at least once a year for 3 years in a row. Unfavorable histological type of basalioma is an infiltrating tumor.

A squamous cell carcinoma is a malignant tumor of epithelium which has a common squamous cell differentiation. The frequency of metastases is about 5 percent. Men suffer from squamous cell carcinoma more often than women. The average age of sufferers is approximately 70 years. The tumor metastases through lymph towards the local lymph nodes. This kind of skin cancer is less frequent then basalioma. About 90 percent of squamous cell carcinomas are found in the face area. After the treatment of squamous cell carcinoma the patient must be under observation for 5 years. The risk of metastases is directly dependent from the depht of the tumor infiltration.

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The most common etiology of nonmelanoma skin cancer are ultraviolet radiation, sunlight and human papiloma virus (HPV). In rare cases, nonmelanoma skin cancer can be caused by ionizing radiation, constant inflammation and constant consuming of inorganic arsenic. Cancer caused by these factors maight be much more agressive than those caused by sunlight, UV and HPV. Immunosupressant individuals are much more likely to suffer from nonmelanoma skin cancer caused by ultarviolet radiation or human papiloma virus.

Melanoma is a malignant pigment cell tumor which spreads through lymph and blood and is distinguished by high mortality. It is the rarest form of skin cancer. It is also the most agressive of the three. Melanoma is risponsible for the majority of deaths caused by skin cancer. Cutaneous melanoma can manifest in adults of diverse ages, even young individuals, and people of all races. The most common type of melanoma differs in different races. In order to achieve better treatment results it is important to diagnose condition at an early stage. Melanoma can form from a mole or from healthy pigment cells (also called melanocytes). Melanocytes are pigment producing cells. They originate from neural crest and then shift to the skin, mucous membranes, meninges, the higher part of oesophagus and eyes. In each of these location there is a possibility that melanocytes will transform to malignant structures. When talking about white skinned people cutaneous melanoma is the most common type of melanomas. Dark skin populations also develop melanoma, but in lower rates. The risk to become ill get larger whith higher sun exposure, because the formation of melanoma is strongly influenced by the impact of sunlight. People whose skin is type I or II are also at a greater risk of becoming ill. In our century tanned skin is considered as a mark of beauty. It influences the rate of melanoma cancer – the numbers of victims is getting higher. The formation of melanoma is also promoted by immunosuppression (patient with AIDS or HIV). If the depth of the tumor is more then 1,5 mm, it is very likely that melanoma will metastasize. The most often type of melanoma is superficial spreading melanoma.

Types of skin cancer – pictures



Skin cancer 

Squamous cell carcinoma

Skin cancer - melanoma 

Symptoms of melanoma – ABCDE (asymmetric, borders, colors, diameter, evolution).

Types of skin cancer – images

Skin cancer - basalioma

Basalioma – microscopic view (H + E)

Stages IA and IB of melanoma

Stages IA and IB of melanoma

Skin cancer - squamous cell carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma, histological view (H + E)