Differentiating Squamous Cell Carcinoma and Basal Cell Carcinoma Skin Cancers


Understanding the type of skin cancer you have been diagnosed with will allow you to ask the right questions when it comes to understanding your treatment. The difference between two of the most common forms of non-melanoma skin cancer will be described here to better understand what skin cancer looks like.

Skin cancer is determined by which type of cells are present when a lesion is biopsied.

The skin is divided into three layers, with many cells and tissues throughout each. Both basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma take place in the outermost layer, the epidermis. The epidermis is a sensitive area, vulnerable to many outside elements that it must work against to protect the body. Both mentioned skin cancers are in effect when basal cells and squamous cells are mutated.

Basal Cell Carcinoma

Of the five sublayers of the epidermis, basal cells are found in the lower layer. This is where cells grow and divide to replace the cells on the outermost layer that are constantly shedding. In turn, these cells become flatter while moving up to the surface, which is when they become squamous cells. Basal cell carcinoma may resemble skin conditions such as eczema and should be seen by a doctor immediately.


Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous cells are found in the outermost sublayer of the epidermis. This type of skin cancer is more likely to spread to other parts of the body than basal cell carcinoma and is considered to be life-threatening at this point. Therefore, squamous cell carcinoma should be treated as soon as it is caught.


An increased risk of developing both of these skin cancers is possible in people with fair skin and light hair who have been exposed to excess UV radiation. Contact one of our Skin Cancer Information Specialists at 855-462-6302 if you have been affected by basal cell or squamous cell carcinoma to discuss your treatment options today.