The skin is the largest organ in the body, so it is no surprise that skin cancer is the most prevalent type of cancer among people today. There are several different types of skin cancer, with melanoma being the most deadly among them. However, most cases of skin cancer are nonmelanoma and successfully treated. 

In addition to the aggressiveness of the conditions, there are multiple differences between melanoma and nonmelanoma skin cancer. Let’s discuss each of these forms of skin cancer so that you can more easily distinguish between the two. 


Melanoma starts out in the cells on the top layer of the skin that produce pigment, called melanocytes. UV light exposure can cause cancerous modifications in the melanocytes, leading to a mole that exhibits the ABCDEs of melanoma:

  • A for asymmetry, meaning that one half of the mole isn’t like the other
  • B for border, meaning that the spot’s border is irregular or undefined
  • C for color, meaning that the mole has a range of colors including tan, black, or brown
  • D for diameter, because melanomas are usually larger than 6 millimeters
  • E for evolving, meaning that the mole changes in size, shape, or color

While melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer, early detection can increase your odds of having it successfully treated. Regular skin cancer examinations can help you manage your risk of melanoma.

Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer

Basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and Merkel cell carcinoma are the most common forms of nonmelanoma skin cancer. 

  • Basal cell carcinoma can have many different appearances, but may look like a white or pink patch, a waxy bump, an open sore, an elevated growth, or a scar. It usually appears on areas of the skin that are exposed to the sun. 
  • Squamous cell carcinoma can appear as a wart, thickened patch of skin, scaly patch, or raised growth with a depression. This form of skin cancer may appear on parts of the body that aren’t typically exposed to sunlight, including the genitals. 
  • Merkel cell carcinoma is a rare form of skin cancer that is serious, but treatable with early detection. It typically presents as a shiny, rapidly growing red, pink, or blue-tinged lump on the skin. 

While nonmelanoma skin cancer is considered less dangerous than melanoma, it still can become serious when left untreated. So, early detection is crucial to preventing severe complications from skin cancer.  

To schedule a skin cancer screening, contact The Bowman Institute today.