If you or any of your family members suffer from skin cancer, it is essential for you to know its type, as it will affect the available options related to your treatment. Skin cancers often take place in the skin area, which often exposed to the heat and light of the sun. These include your face, head, neck, arms, hands and so on. However, skin cancer may even take place in other areas of the human body.(1)
What Is The Difference Between Melanoma & Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer?
To understand the difference, we have to discuss both types of skin cancers based on the area of skin, they affect and whether they are life-threatening for patients.
Nonmelanoma Skin Cancers
Nonmelanoma skin cancers take place in two different types i.e. in squamous cell cancer and basal cell cancer, both of which have obtained their names according to the type of cancerous cells.
Squamous Cell Skin Cancer: Squamous cell skin cancer takes place on skin areas, which exposed to UV rays of the sun. However, SCC may also take place in other body areas, which do not get any exposure to heat and light of the sun. Also, squamous cell carcinoma spreads to inner organs and lymph nodes.(1)
Basal Cell Carcinoma: Basal Cell Carcinoma mainly starts in the human’s basal cells. These cells are present within the skin responsible for the production of new skin cells as old ones die. Abbreviated as BCC, these types of cancers appear as slightly transparent color bump over the skin even though it may take many other forms. The basal type of cancer takes place often on skin areas exposed to the sunlight, like your neck and head. Especially, basal cell carcinomas take place when you experience long-term exposure to UV rays from the sunlight.(2)
However, both categories of nonmelanoma skin cancers i.e. basal cell skin cancer and squamous cell skin cancer are not life-threatening ones. However, patients have to undergo proper treatment to avoid any further complications.
Melanoma Skin Cancers
Melanoma skin cancer, as the name highlights it starts in the patients’ melanocytes. However, doctors also call it with other names i.e. cutaneous melanoma and malignant melanoma. Most of the melanoma cells continue to create melanin, because of which melanoma tumors often appear as black or brown. On the other side, a few of the melanomas are unable to create melanin and hence, they appear white, tan and pink color.
Melanomas may develop in almost every area of the human skin. However, these are more likely to form or start on the patients’ trunk i.e. back and chest areas in men, while legs in women. Other common sites of melanomas are face and neck. Along with this, melanoma may form in any other body part, like mouth, eyes, anal and genital areas but these are relatively lesser common areas to affect by it.(3)
Common Or Rare Form of Skin Cancer
Melanoma type of skin cancer is less common as compared to nonmelanoma skin cancer categories. However, melanoma is highly dangerous, as it has a relatively higher tendency to spread to various other body parts in patients if they do not undergo a suitable diagnose procedure and early treatment.(3)
Once melanoma spreads deep in the skin and/or other body parts, it becomes highly difficult to cure and may prove to be a deadly one. According to the highlighted statistics-
- The estimated survival rate for patients of the United States who undergo the diagnosis of melanoma is approximately 98 percent.
- Approximately 7,230 people i.e. 4,740 men and 2,490 women have died because of melanoma in the United States, as revealed from the data of 2019.(4)
To conclude, we should say that melanoma is a dangerous type of skin cancer between the two different types of skin cancers i.e. melanoma and nonmelanoma skin cancers. Also, melanoma may sometimes become life-threatening for patients.