Skin cancer


About skin cancer

Skin cancer is caused by uncontrolled growth of abnormal skin cells. It occurs when unrepaired DNA damage to skin cells (most often caused by ultraviolet radiation from sunshine or tanning beds) triggers mutations, or genetic defects, that lead the skin cells to multiply rapidly and form malignant tumors.

Types of skin cancer

There are three main types of skin cancer, which are divided into non-melanoma and melanoma cancers:

Non melanoma skin cancer

  • Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) – is a cancer of the basal cells at the bottom of the epidermis of the skin
  • Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) – is a cancer of the cells (called keratinocytes) found in the outermost layer of the skin (the epidermis)

Melanoma skin cancer

  • Malignant melanoma – melanoma is a cancer that usually starts in the skin, either in a mole or in normal-looking skin

Rarer types

There are a number of other rare types of cancer that can occur in the skin:

  • Merkel cell carcinoma – this is a cancer that develops in Merkel cells which are found in the top layer of the skin
  • Kaposi’s sarcoma –
  • Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma of the skin
  • Sarcoma

These make up less than 1 in 100 (1%) of all skin cancers in the UK. The Trust offers rapid advice, diagnosis and treatment to patients displaying symptoms of a skin cancer and has a specialist skin team that will diagnose and treat your skin cancer.

Our Cancer Services team is here to support you every step of the way. This skin cancer section on our website takes you through your skin cancer pathway within the Trust and provides you with the information and support you will need throughout your journey.