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What Happens To Untreated Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer & When To Go To The Doctor?

Nonmelanoma skin cancers are the typical cancerous growth on the skin among all the skin cancers. It tends to develop in the sun-exposed areas of the body, such as face, chest, shoulder, etc. It usually grows as a single patch or lesion or lump on the skin. Its risk factors involve living in high altitudes, overuse of artificial lights, weak immune system, and many more. It is diagnosed by skin biopsy. It is curable in most cases. But there are equal chances of return of the skin cancers.

Nonmelanoma skin cancer refers to the cancerous growth on the upper layers of the skin (epidermis). It grows, especially on basal cells and squamous cells. It is more common and less severe than melanoma cancers. It tends to appear more in males than in females. Older adults develop them more commonly. It often grows in sun-exposed areas such as the face, ears, hands, shoulders, chest, and back.

Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)- it develops as a rodent ulcer in the cells lining under the epidermis. It is the most common type of cancer that develops in the skin. It covers 75% of all skin cancers.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma- it develops in the cells lining above the epidermis. It is the most severe form of nonmelanoma cancer that accounts for 20 % of all cancers. (2).

What Happens To Untreated Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer?

What Happens To Untreated Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer?

If BCCs are left untreated, then they do not metastasize to other parts of the body. But it may grow extensively in its local area and may cause significant damage to the neighboring structures. For instance, if it is present on the face, it may cause erosion and deterioration of the ear or nose. (1)

If SCCs are left untreated, they grow more rooted and increase in size rapidly. They usually grow and ulcerate and grow near the nose or ear. When they are not treated in time, they erode and damage the nose or ears ultimately. They usually spread to the different parts of the body rapidly in later stages, and it becomes difficult to eradicate them. (1)

There is also a chance that one or more cancerous growth on the skin may appear and grow fast. It is evident because cancers are often multiple at the same time. (2)

Untreated Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer

When To Go To The Doctor For Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer?

Nonmelanoma skin cancers are relapsing in nature. They are not too dangerous except for its type, squamous cell carcinoma. They are often multiple. So, the person who has the following risk factors and symptoms should approach his physician for early detection and timely treatment of cancer-

  • There is a presence of moles or freckles or patch or lump or lesions or discoloration on the skin, which is not going away for four weeks.
  • If your skin develops sunburns or freckles quickly when exposed to bright sunlight.
  • There is a history of past nonmelanoma skin cancer.
  • There is a family history of skin cancer.
  • If you are consuming medicines that can suppress your immune system.
  • There is a coexisting medical disease in the body that has weakened the immune system. (2)


  • Overexposure to sun rays
  • Repeated sunburns through tanning beds, sun lamps, etc.
  • Smoking
  • Suppressed immune system
  • Medicines
  • Family history or past history of skin cancer
  • Immune suppressive medical conditions such as HIV, AIDS (2)


Nonmelanoma skin cancers are left untreated then they don’t usually spread to other parts of the body unless squamous cell carcinoma. In some cases, it causes severe damage to the neighboring tissues. When you observe any abnormality on your skin that is not healing for four weeks, you should go to your physician.


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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:October 25, 2021

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