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Common Types of Skin Cancer

As the largest, most exposed organ in the body, the skin is vulnerable to several types of skin cancer, especially those caused by repeated overexposure to ultraviolet rays and genetic predispositions.

At the cutaneous oncology program at Tampa General Hospital’s Cancer Institute, we diagnose and treat three main types of skin cancer, which are classified by the different types of skin cancer cells present:

Basal Cell Carcinoma

This is the most common form of cancer in humans. Basal cell carcinoma forms in the skin’s basal cell layer, which is the deepest layer of the epidermis. Usually occurring on the neck, head and other sun-exposed areas, basal cell carcinoma commonly appears as an open sore, shiny bump, red patch or pink growth. It rarely spreads beyond the original tumor site, but prompt treatment is still necessary to avoid permanent disfiguration and to ensure it’s not an unusually severe case. About 8 out of 10 skin cancer cases are basal cell carcinomas according to the American Cancer Society.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

The second most common form of skin cancer, squamous cell carcinoma affects the skin’s upper layers. Individuals with squamous cell carcinoma may develop open sores, raised growths, scaly red patches or warts that bleed or crust on any sun-exposed area. If left unaddressed, the cancer may spread to surrounding tissues and become disfiguring or deadly. An estimated 700,000 cases of squamous cell carcinoma are diagnosed in the U.S. every year according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.


This is a much more serious type of malignancy that forms in the skin’s melanocytes, which are the cells that produce skin pigment. Melanoma can develop as a mole or grow from an existing mole and most often appear to be black or brown with an irregular border. While it is far less likely to occur than basal and squamous cell carcinomas, it is more deadly. Early detection and swift treatment for malignant melanoma skin cancer is key to a positive prognosis.

World-Class Skin Cancer Treatment

The cutaneous oncology experts at Tampa General Hospital take a multidisciplinary approach to treat any type or stage of skin cancer. Our team includes highly experienced medical oncologists, surgical oncologists, radiation oncologists, pathologists, nurses and other medical professionals who ensure our patients receive a course of skin cancer treatment that best suits their condition. As an academic teaching hospital partnered with the University of South Florida, we provide leading-edge medical technologies and cancer therapies designed to target specific malignancies.

We’re Here For You

Efficiently diagnosing and treating skin cancer is a priority for our cutaneous oncology specialists, but we also champion community education and skin cancer screenings. Prevention is the key to reducing the risk of skin cancer development in adults and children, and regular screenings can help catch skin cancer in the early stages, allowing for a wide array of treatment options and a better prognosis.

To learn more about the types of skin cancer we treat, contact TGH or find a TGH doctor using our searchable database. Tampa General Hospital is recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top 10% in the nation for Cancer Care for 2021-22.