Nonmelanomas are rarely life-threatening. These include basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). They progress slowly, seldom spread beyond the skin, are detected easily, and are usually curable. In addition to the two listed above, there are a few rare nonmelanomas, such as Kaposi’s sarcoma, a potentially life-threatening disease characterized by purple growths and associated with a suppressed immune system, and almost always seen in patients with AIDS or the elderly.
BCC is the most common type of skin cancer, and appears frequently on the head, neck, and hands as a small, fleshy bump, nodule, or red patch. Other parts of the body may be affected as well. Basal cell carcinomas are frequently found in fair-skinned people, and rarely occur in dark skin.
They usually do not grow quickly. It can take many months or years for one to grow to a diameter of one-half inch. Untreated, the cancer will often will begin to bleed, crust over, heal and repeat the cycle. They can extend below the skin to the bone and nerves, causing considerable local damage.
SCC occurs in the top layers of the skin. It occurs as a crusty patch over inflamed, red skin, most commonly in areas that are exposed to the sun but may also develop on the insides of the mouth, nose, and genitalia.
Actinic Keratose is a noncancerous skin growth that may become cancerous. These are crusty, reddish lesions that may scratch off but grow back on sun-exposed skin.