Non-melanoma skin cancer

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If non-melanoma skin cancer spreads

Cancer cells can spread from the skin to other parts of the body. This spread is called metastasis. But most non-melanoma skin cancers do not spread to other parts of the body.

Understanding how a type of cancer usually grows and spreads helps your healthcare team plan your treatment and future care.

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC), if left untreated, can grow into nearby skin, cartilage, bone and other tissues. In very rare cases, it may spread to nearby lymph nodes, the lungs and bone that is farther from where the cancer started.

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) doesn’t usually spread to other parts of the body, but it is more likely than BCC to spread. If left untreated, SCC can grow deeper into the skin. Sometimes it can spread to nearby lymph nodes. In rare cases, it can spread to bone, the lungs or other organs.

Stories

A teenaged girl sitting on her bed I was in total shock when I heard the diagnosis of cancer. Cancer to me was an adult’s disease. Being a 13-year-old teenager, it certainly wasn’t even on my radar.

Read Sabrina's story

Making progress in the cancer fight

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The 5-year cancer survival rate has increased from 25% in the 1940s to 60% today.

Learn more