Squamous cells are flat cells in the outer part of the epidermis that constantly shed as new ones form. This cancer appears on sun-exposed areas of the body like the face, ears, neck, lips, and backs of the hands.
Basal cells are located in the lower part of the skin. It usually develops on the head and neck. This cancer tends to grow slowly. Experts say it's very rare for a basal cell cancer to spread to other parts of the body. But if a basal cell cancer is left untreated, it can grow into nearby areas and invade the bone or other tissues beneath the skin.
Roswell's Director of Dermatological Surgery Dr. Kimberly Brady says, "One in five Americans will develop a form of skin cancer and the rates are rising."
Although cancer can be inherited through genetics, there are impactful ways to lessen your chances of getting skin cancer.
Dr. Kimberly Brady recommends using applying a shot glass worth of sunscreen before hitting the sun. Stick to SPF 30. Using higher SPFs only offer two percent more protection and are more expensive.
Also, avoid tanning beds, particularly tanning salons. Experts say the UV rays from the bed causes direct DNA damage, which leads to cancer cell roots in the body.
Be sure to stay out of the sun during peak hours, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
And don't be afraid to pay your doctor a visit more often.
Whether a melanoma or non-melanoma type, like basal cell or squamous cell cancer, Dr. Brady says being proactive and aware could save your life.
Roswell Institute produces Cancer Talk podcasts where listeners can learn more about various cancers from doctors who've studied and currently practice in the field.