Non-melanoma skin carcinomas appear more frequently in areas exposed to sunlight. The area of the head and neck (55% of cases), backs of hands and forearms (18% of cases) and legs (13% of cases) are the most common places where carcinomas non-melanoma appear. As far as basal cell carcinoma almost 70% shows up on the face and neck.

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    What is it?

    Non melanoma cancer includes the following two types of frequent skin cancer:

    • Squamous cell carcinoma of the skin: it is a malignant proliferation of a type of skin cells, keratinocytes. It is a tumor with the capacity to metastasize especially on a ganglion level. Comprise 20-25% of cutaneous malignancies.
    • Basal Cell Carcinoma: comes from the lower layer of the epidermis, the basal cells. Does not have the capacity to metastasize; however it can become locally invasive for its slow but steady growth.

    Clinical manifestations of Epidemoide Carcinoma

    This skin cancer usually occurs on areas of sun damage such as the face, ears, neck, hands and arms. However, it may appear on other areas as well.

    The main symptom of this type of skin cancer is a growing bump that grows rapidly, (weeks) which may have a scaly, rough, ulcerated or a flat reddish patch on the surface.

    At the beginning a scaly patch is noted with a reddish colored crust. A sore that does not heal can be a sign of this type of skin cancer.


    The doctor may suspect that this is a non-melanoma carcinoma by conducting a clinical study or through the epiluminescence light. However, a skin biopsy will give an accurate diagnosis. There are new diagnostic modalities such as DIC (immediate skin diagnosis) where in a few minutes a diagnosis will be available distinguishing the type of carcinoma or other diseases.

    Treatment for Non Melanoma Skin Cancer

    There are several treatments that may be useful for treating these types of skin cancer. They are usually performed under local anesthesia.

    The best treatment depends on the type of cancer, location, whether it is primary (first time) or recurrent, general health of the patient, and the expertise of the dermatologist along with the availability of the technology to perform the procedure.

    Some of the available treatments are: cryosurgery, electro-surgery + spoon, surgical excision, photodynamic therapy, laser surgery and topical drugs. The best treatment with a percentage of 99% success in primary carcinomas (previously untreated) and 95% in the relapsed carcinomas is MOHS micrographic surgery. The problem lies in the availability of operating rooms with adjacent laboratories and specially the training, expertise and title in clinical derma-pathology of the Doctor performing the surgery. A microscopic examination and interpretation is crucial in healing the tumor.

    Doctor Pablo Umbert

    Tipos de cáncer de piel no melanoma