Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Melanoma/Skin Cancer Health Center

Select An Article
Font Size

What Happens

Nonmelanoma skin cancer usually develops slowly, invading and destroying nearby tissues. It may take months or years for basal cell or squamous cell carcinomas to develop. Because of this slow growth, skincancer can often be detected and treated early in its development, increasing the chance for a cure.

Basal cell carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma can affect the surface of the skin where it appears. If it is not treated, it can grow larger and cause problems beneath the skin, sometimes damaging the muscles and bones. Basal cell carcinoma very rarely spreads (metastasizes) to other parts of the body.

After you have one basal cell carcinoma, you are more likely to have another one develop in a new place. If basal cell carcinoma comes back at the same place (recurs), it may grow faster and cause more tissue damage.

Squamous cell carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma often starts from a small rough spot in sun-damaged skin (actinic keratosis). Or it may develop from an early form of skin cancer called Bowen's disease. If a squamous cell carcinoma is not treated, it may spread.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: October 02, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
Next Article:

Today on WebMD

Woman checking out tan lines
SLIDESHOW
Cancer Fighting Foods Slideshow
SLIDESHOW
 
what is your cancer risk
HEALTH CHECK
Could Caffeine Help Fight Skin Cancer
VIDEO
 

12 Ways to Protect Your Skin from Melanoma
ARTICLE
precancerous lesions slideshow
SLIDESHOW
 
Do You Know Your Melanoma ABCs
VIDEO
15 Cancer Symptoms Men Ignore
ARTICLE
 

screening tests for men
SLIDESHOW
Vitamin D
SLIDESHOW
 
Is That Mole Skin Cancer
VIDEO
Brilliant sun rays
Quiz
 

WebMD Special Sections