Non-malignant melanoma skin cancer

There are two main types of skin cancer - non-melanoma and melanoma - along with some much rarer types. Non-melanoma is more common, and it’s much less likely to spread.

 

What is non-melanoma skin cancer

Non-melanoma skin cancer develops slowly in the upper layers of the skin. There are two types:

  • Basal cell carcinomas (BCC) – common and easiest to treat and cure
  • Squamous cell carcinomas (SCC) – treatment may be less successful if other parts of the body have been affected

Non-melanoma skin cancer usually appears on parts of your body exposed to the sun. That’s generally on the face, neck, bald scalp, arms, back of hands and lower legs. Most non-melanoma skin cancers can be cured.

Causes of non-melanoma skin cancers

Basal cell carcinomas are caused mainly by exposure to the sun. They are more common in people with fair skin. Other risk factors include:

      • A history of skin cancer
      • A family history of skin cancer
      • Some rare inherited disorders
      • UV light from a sun lamp

Squamous cell carcinomas are caused by sun exposure, but risk factors also include:

    • A family history of skin cancer
    • A history of skin cancer
    • Drinking too much alcohol
    • Immunosuppressant medicines
    • Injuries, particularly with elderly people
    • Smoking
    • Some rare inherited disorders
    • UV light from a sun lamp

Symptoms of non-melanoma skin cancer

A pink or red lump that doesn’t heal

A scaly area of skin that doesn’t heal

Smooth lump with a pearly appearance

A red or dark coloured spot or sore that doesn’t heal within a month

A red or dark coloured spot or sore that is painful, bleeds or itches

Broken skin that doesn't improve within a month

Red patches on your skin

Having one or more of these symptoms doesn’t mean you have cancer but it’s best to ask your doctor for advice. The sooner your cancer is detected, the better the chances of treating it successfully.

Tests and diagnosis

In most cases, your doctor will be able to give a diagnosis after a physical examination of your skin. They may use a hand-held microscope (or dermatoscope). Sometimes, a biopsy (small sample of skin) may also be taken for analysis.

Treatments we offer

Treatment for non-melanoma skin cancer usually involves surgery and/or radiotherapy.

Radiotherapy kills cancer cells. It’s used in the early stages of cancer treatment or after it has started to spread. It can also be used to relieve pain and discomfort from cancer that has spread.

Read more

Radiotherapy kills cancer cells. It’s used in the early stages of cancer treatment or after it has started to spread. It can also be used to relieve pain and discomfort from cancer that has spread.

Read more

Meet our doctors

Everything we do is focused on designing better care for our patients. With a network of 12 specialist oncology treatment centres across the UK, we provide the most up-to-date treatments and technology as standard.

We attract and retain some of the most experienced doctors in the country, who all have a passion for improving patient outcomes and specialise in the treatment of different types of cancer.

Meet our doctors

Search for a centre near you

Birmingham

Little Aston Hall Drive, Sutton Coldfield, B74 3BF

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Chelmsford

Springfield Cancer Centre, Lawn Lane, Chelmsford, CM1 7GU

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Elstree

Unit 710, Centennial Park, Centennial Avenue, Elstree, Borehamwood, WD6 3SZ

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Guildford

BMI St Martha Oncology Centre, 46 Harvey Road, Guildford, GU1 3LX

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Maidstone

17 Kings Hill Avenue, Kings Hill, West Malling, ME19 4UA

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Milton Keynes

Sunrise Parkway, Linford Wood East, Milton Keynes, MK14 6LS

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Newmarket

The Oaks, Fordham Road, Newmarket, CB8 7XN

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Nottingham

The Park Centre for oncology, Sherwood Lodge Drive, Burntstump Country Park, Nottingham, NG5 8RX

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Oxford

Sandy Lane West, Peters Way, Oxford, OX4 6LB

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Portsmouth

Bartons Road, Havant, PO9 5NA

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Southampton

Spire Hospital, Chalybeate Close, Southampton, SO16 6UY

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Windsor

69 Alma Road, Windsor, SL4 3HD

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