Photodynamic Therapy

Non-melanoma Skin Cancer

What is Non-melanoma skin cancer

Non-melanoma skin cancer includes two types: basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.

As the names suggest, basal cell carcinoma arises from the uncontrolled multiplication of basal cells, and squamous cell carcinoma from the uncontrolled multiplication of squamous cells.

Like all skin cancers, exposure to sunlight (UV light) is the biggest cause of non-melanoma skin cancer. Other things that increase the risk are fair-coloured skin and older age.

Can it be treated?

What is actinic keratosis?

What is Basal Cell Carcinoma?

This cancer develops from basal cells in the deepest layer of the upper skin (epidermis). Basal Cell Carcinoma may start as a small lump that gets bigger. The edges usually have a shiny or pearly look. The middle is usually depressed (sunken). Sometimes the middle becomes an ulcer, a sore hole. Or sometimes there is a crust in the middle. Early treatment reduces the risk of other types of tissue being affected.It is very rare for a basal cell carcinoma to spread to other parts of the body, but it is possible to have more than one basal cell cancer at any one time.

What is Bowen's Disease?

These commonly show themselves as red scaly patches, which usually occur on light exposed areas for example lower legs, arms and face. These areas have abnormal skin cells. Very rarely these abnormal cells develop into a low grade form of cancer.

Further information

Cancer Research UK (Click here) (Click here)

American Cancer Society. Skin Cancer: Basal and Squamous (Click here)


Molecular Mechanisms of Basal Cell and Squamous Cell Carcinomas. Reichrath J (ed). Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006.

Skin Cancer: Basal and Squamous Cell.
[Accessed 2 November 2012].