This is what you should know about skin cancer

Skin cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the skin. Skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in Mexico. There are many types of skin cancer.

Skin cancer

The skin is the largest organ in the body, it protects from heat, sunlight, injury, and infection. The skin also helps control body temperature and stores water, fat, and vitamin D. Skin has several layers, but the two main layers are the epidermis (upper or outer layer) and the dermis (lower or inner layer).

The epidermis is made up of three classes of cells:

  • Squamous cells: they are thin and flat cells that make up most of the epidermis.
  • Basal cells: they are round cells that are below the squamous cells.
  • Melanocytes: they are found throughout the lower part of the epidermis and produce melanin, the pigment that gives skin its natural color. When the skin is exposed to the sun, the melanocytes produce more pigments, causing the skin to tan or darken.

The dermis contains blood and lymphatic vessels, hair follicles, and glands.

Anatomy of the skin with melanocytes. The image shows the epidermis and dermis. Melanocytes are in the basal cell layer, in the deepest part of the epidermis.

There are different types of skin cancer

The most common types of skin cancer are squamous cell carcinoma, which forms in squamous cells, and basal cell carcinoma, which forms in basal cells. Squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma are also called non-melanoma skin cancers. Melanoma, which forms in melanocytes, is a less common type of skin cancer that grows and spreads quickly.

Skin cancer can occur anywhere on the body, but it’s most common areas are the ones exposed to sunlight, such as the face, neck, hands, and arms.

Types of skin cancer most common in Mexico

Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are the most common types of skin cancer in Mexico. The number of new cases of non-melanoma skin cancer appears to be increasing each year. These non-melanoma skin cancers are usually treatable with surgery and radiation therapy.

The number of new cases of melanoma has shown a calculated increase of 500% in recent years according to the National Cancer Institute of our country. Melanoma is more likely to spread to nearby tissues and other parts of the body, and it can be more difficult to cure. If melanoma skin cancer is found and treated early, this can help prevent death from melanoma.

It is important to consult a doctor for a medical check. It is possible to prevent skin cancer.

Dr. Araceli Barrera Jácome, dermatologist graduated from the National Autonomous University of Mexico with a Bachelor’s Degree as Surgeon, she has a Specialty in Dermatology from the University of Guadalajara and a Specialty in Dermatopathology from the National Autonomous University of Mexico.


1.-  National Cancer Institute