Clearing up a myth about skin cancers

Video Transcript:

Here’s another daily tip from your friendly local dermatologist in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Okay, so skin cancer, and there’s kind of the big three skin cancers, are the most common. There’s the basal cell cancer, the squamous cell cancer, and the melanomas. Now people sometimes think that because basal cell cancers have the least chance of spreading internally or metastasizing, that the basal cell turns in the squamous, or the squamous turns into the melanoma, and that is not true.

I get asked this question a lot. A basal cell cancer is a basal cell cancer. It does not turn into a squamous cell cancer. Likewise a squamous doesn’t turn into a basal, a squamous doesn’t turn into a melanoma, and a melanoma doesn’t turn into a basal or squamous. They are their own distinct cancers.

Now while it is very true that what causes a basal cell, a squamous cell or a melanoma are the same, one basal cell does not turn into a squamous cell. So if you have light complexion, if you burn easily, if you have a long history of sun exposure, if you use tanning beds, all of those things are going to contribute to each one of those cancers, but one does not turn into the other.