cannabis oil for skin cancer

CBD For Skin Cancer 2020 – Possible Benefits, Treatment For Patient

Americans love to frequent the beach and tanning bed laying out and catching some sun rays. And while there is nothing wrong with that exposing your skin too much can lead to skin cancer.

Currently, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, one in six Americans will develop skin cancer during their lifetime. So we need to find a solution to treat and prevent the proliferation of this disease.

Studies have shown that CBD is effective in relieving pain in skin cancer, helping to reduce the spread and growth of skin cancer cells. The topical administration of CBD oil, without any THC, is a safe and effective non-invasive alternative for improving the quality of life in patients with some skin disorders, especially on skin cancer.

To combat that scientists and other researchers have begun to study how cannabis oil can be used to combat skin cancer. In this article, we provide the best CBD oil for skin cancer products that we found after doing our research.

Hopefully, this list will not only provide you with much-needed information about skin cancer and cannabis. But also make you think about purchasing one of the products that we have on our list of products.

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What is skin cancer

Skin cancer is an abnormal growth of skin cells. They are usually triggered by overexposure to the sun and other harmful rays. Once the mutations within your skin begin to mutate, they start to grow out of control. Then it turns into a cancerous mass that can spread throughout the body.

Skin cancer affects individuals of all skin tones, as well as those with darker complexions. Once melanoma occurs in people with dark skin tones, it’s more likely to happen in areas not usually exposed to the sun, such as the palms of the hands and soles of the feet.

There are three types of skin cancer and they are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. That is to say, out of all three melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer. If you act promptly and with treatment, the other two forms of skin cancer basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma are not life-threatening.

The statistics are startling. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the incidence of skin cancer is higher than all other cancers combined. In fact, it is believed that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer over the course of their life. Here is the breakdown of the estimated number of Americans who will be diagnosed in the United States in 2018: 178,560 new cases of melanoma, 87,290 noninvasive (in situ), and 91,270 invasives.

In addition, the American Cancer Society projects invasive melanoma will be the fifth most common cancer for men (55,150 cases) and the sixth most common cancer for women (36,120 cases) this year.

The key factor in preventing skin cancer is to limit your exposure to sunlight. As well as use a protectant like sunscreen to cover your skin when you intend to spend a large amount of time outside or in a sunny area.

Types of Skin Cancer

Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is a kind of skin cancer that originates in the basal cells. Normal basal cells line the epidermis. They’re the skin cells that replenish old cells with new ones. Cancer of the basal cells results in tumors that arise on the skin’s surface. These tumors typically appear like sores, growths, bumps, scars, or red patches.

While BCC doesn’t really spread to other places in the body (metastasizes), still it can lead to disfigurement. In some cases, it can spread to different parts of the body. If it does, it can turn into life-threatening. BCC is the most usual kind of skin cancer. There are over 4 million cases diagnosed in the United States each year.

Almost all BCCs develop on parts of the body that are always exposed to the sun. Tumors can develop on the face, ears, shoulders, neck, scalp, and arms. In very rare cases, tumors develop in areas not often exposed to sunlight.

BCCs are generally painless. The only symptom is that the growth or change in the look of the skin. There are several kinds of BCC. Each has a different appearance:

  • Pigmented BCC: This kind appears like a brown, blue, or black lesion, which usually has a translucent and raised border.
  • Superficial BCC: This type takes on the look of a reddish patch on the skin that is often plain and scaly. It continues to grow and oftentimes features a raised edge. It typically takes on this appearance once on the back or chest.
  • Nonulcerative BCC: This sort appears as a bump on the skin that is white, skin-colored, or pink. It’s usually translucent, with blood vessels beneath that are visible. This is the most common kind of BCC. It most commonly arises on the neck, ears, and face. It can rupture, bleed, and scab over.
  • Morpheaform BCC: This can be the least common kind of BCC. It generally resembles a scarlike lesion with a white and waxy form and no defined border. This kind of carcinoma can indicate a very invasive form of BCC, which is more likely to be disfiguring.
  • Basosquamous BCC: This sort of carcinoma carries traits of each BCC and squamous cell carcinoma, a different type of skin cancer. It’s extraordinarily rare but is more probably to metastasize compared with other types of skin cancer.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous cell cancer (SCC), is a kind of skin cancer that originates in the squamous cells. Squamous cells are the skinny, flat cells that compose the epidermis or the outermost layer of the skin. SCC is caused by changes within the DNA of these cells, which leads them to multiply uncontrollably.

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, SCC is the second well-known form of skin cancer. There are around 700,000 people in the United States that are diagnosed with this type of skin cancer each year.

People with SCC often develop scaly, red patches, open sores, or warts on their skin. These abnormal growths can develop anywhere, but they’re most often found in areas that receive the most exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, either from sunlight or from tanning beds or lamps. The condition usually isn’t life-threatening, but it can become dangerous if it goes untreated. When treatment isn’t received promptly, the growths can increase in size and spread to other parts of your body, causing serious complications.

Merkel Cell Carcinoma

Merkel cell carcinoma is a rare kind of skin cancer that regularly appears as a flesh-colored or bluish-red nodule, sometimes on your face, head, or neck. Merkel cell carcinoma is also known as neuroendocrine carcinoma of the skin.

Merkel cell carcinoma most frequently develops in older folks. Long-term sun exposure or a weak immune system could increase your risk of developing Merkel cell carcinoma.

Merkel cell carcinoma tends to grow quickly and can spread fast to other parts of your body. Treatment possibilities for Merkel cell carcinoma sometimes vary on whether cancer has spread beyond the skin.

The first sign of Merkel cell carcinoma is normally a fast-growing, painless nodule (tumor) on the skin. The nodule could be skin-colored or might appear in colors of red, blue, or purple. Most Merkel cell carcinomas spread on the face, head, or neck, but they can originate anywhere on the body, even on areas not exposed to sunlight.

Melanoma Skin Cancer

There are several factors that can make you more likely to develop melanoma, which includes:

  • Getting sunburned regularly, specifically, if the sunburn was severe enough to cause your skin to blister
  • Living in areas with excessive sunlight, like Florida, Hawaii, or Australia
  • Using tanning beds
  • Having fairer skin
  • The family has a history of melanoma
  • Having a large number of moles on your body

This type of skin cancer is less common. However, it’s the most dangerous sort of skin cancer. In fact, melanoma makes up only 1% of skin cancers, but it causes the majority of skin cancer-related deaths annually. Melanoma forms in the melanocytes, the skin cells that make pigment.

Actinic keratoses

As you age, you will begin to see rough, scaly spots spreading on your hands, arms, or face. These spots are known as actinic keratoses, however, they’re commonly called as sunspots or age spots.

Actinic keratosis usually develops in areas that have been damaged by years of sun exposure. They form once you have actinic keratosis (AK), which is a very usual skin condition.

AK happens once skin cells called keratinocytes begin to grow abnormally, forming scaly, discolored spots. The skin patches are often any of these colors: brown, tan, gray, pink.

They tend to appear on the parts of the body that get the most sun exposure, including the following:

  • Hands
  • Arms
  • Face
  • Scalp
  • Neck

Actinic keratoses aren’t cancerous themselves. However, they can progress to squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), though the likelihood is low.

When they’re left untreated, up to 10 percent of actinic keratoses can progress to SCC. SCC is the second very known kind of skin cancer. Due to this risk, the spots should be regularly monitored by your doctor or dermatologist. Here are some pictures of SCC and what changes to look out for.

How is skin cancer usually treated

Once your doctor identifies skin cancer or an area of your skin that may show signs of precancerous masses then they will want to begin treatment. Usually what will be done first is to remove the skin masses that are presenting itself as the problem.

If you’ve been diagnosed with skin cancer, you’re likely facing decisions that can be overwhelming or hard to understand. Be sure to speak with your medical team in detail about your diagnosis and treatment options, and ask for clarification on anything you are uncertain about.

To help you navigate this complex landscape, our skin cancer treatment pages provide physician-reviewed information about your options. Because the types of treatments vary widely and are specific to the type of condition you have, review the treatment page that matches your diagnosis:

Actinic Keratosis Treatment

Your treatment options depend on how many lesions you have, where they are, your age, and overall health. Options include:

  • Surgical procedures
  • Topical treatments
  • Photodynamic therapy
  • Combination therapy

Basal Cell Carcinoma Treatment

If you’ve been diagnosed with a small or early BCC, a number of effective treatments can usually be performed on an outpatient basis, using a local anesthetic with minimal pain. Afterward, most wounds can heal naturally, leaving minimal scarring.

  • Curettage and electrodesiccation (electrosurgery)
  • Mohs surgery
  • Excisional surgery
  • Radiation therapy
  • Photodynamic therapy
  • Cryosurgery
  • Laser surgery
  • Topical medications
  • Oral medications for advanced BCC

Melanoma Treatment

If you’ve been diagnosed, your treatment choices depend on the stage of the disease, the location of the tumor, and your overall health. Options include:

  • Surgical removal of the melanoma
  • Immunotherapy
  • Targeted therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation

Merkel Cell Carcinoma Treatment

While treatment options for MCC depend on the stage of the disease and the overall health of the patient, treatment includes surgical removal of the primary tumor along with:

  • Radiation
  • Immunotherapy
  • Chemotherapy

Squamous Cell Carcinoma Treatment

If you are diagnosed with an SCC that is not yet severe, there are several effective treatments that can typically be done on an outpatient basis. The options available to you varies on the tumor type, size, location, and depth, as well as your age and overall health.

  • Excisional surgery
  • Mohs surgery
  • Cryosurgery
  • Curettage and electrodesiccation (electrosurgery)
  • Laser surgery
  • Radiation
  • Photodynamic therapy (PDT)
  • Topical medications

Ask your dermatologist to clearly explain the options that might work best for you, including details about the risks and benefits.

Best Methods of Marijuana Treatment for Skin Cancer

Cannabis Oil

CBD oil has been claimed as being beneficial in helping with chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, anxiety and depression, schizophrenia, and skin cancer. CBD oil studies have shown that it can encourage abnormal cell death. It can also slow the growth and spread of cancer.

Transdermal Patch

A transdermal patch is a patch that is attached to your skin and contains the medication. The drug from the patch is received by your body for a period of time. If you’d rather not have a pill or an injection, this may be a better option for getting some medications.

Some of the drugs more usually used in these patches include:

  • Fentanyl to relieve pain
  • Nicotine to help with quitting smoking
  • Clonidine to treat high blood pressure


How CBD oil affects our endocannabinoid system ? When you consume CBD by smoking (or consume it in any other way), it can have profound effects on your body and mind. This is in large part due to its interaction with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). We say ‘in part’ because CBD also influences other biological systems, but we’ll get to that in a moment.

The ECS is a network of receptors that are located throughout the body and which interact with chemicals called endocannabinoids. When endocannabinoids bind with cannabinoid receptors, they trigger several different processes, which help the body to maintain homeostasis or a state of internal balance.


CBD edibles have several benefits than other types of products:

  • Provide long-lasting relief: Edibles are broken down slowly in the digestive system. As such, the CBD is released gradually over a more extended period of time. You get to experience the effects for longer.
  • CBD edibles are easy to make: If you don’t want to invest in gummies online, you can quite easily create your own CBD edibles using a tincture or isolated powder. There are plenty of recipes online to try out!
  • Easy to dose: Instead of trying to measure out CBD using an oil dropper, edibles provide a pre-measured dose.
  • General remedy: Just like other forms of CBD (like capsules and tinctures), edibles provide whole-body effects. Plus, this form is tastier!


Topical lotions and salves with CBD oil are common among those who suffer joint pain, including the nagging discomforts from previous injuries. Topicals are used directly to the skin, and typically provide immediate pain relief to the affected areas.

Many topicals are also infused with nutrients and natural ingredients that offer good moisturization for dry and/or damaged skin. CBD topicals typically come in tubs containing one to four ounces of lotion or salve.


CBD created for vaping is typically referred to as “CBD vape oil”. However, it doesn’t contain any actual oil. A better name for it is CBD vape juice or CBD distillate. They’re all made with food-grade ingredients, so they can also be consumed orally, but are very different from oil-based tinctures.

Look carefully at the ingredients. If it contains anything other than PG, VG, CBD extract, terpenes, and cannabinoids, then it’s most likely unsuitable for inhalation. Don’t take the risk. It must have some information regarding vaping, vape juice, e-liquid or e-juice on the label and should not contain any actual oil.


A tincture is derived by soaking the cannabis plant in an alcohol and water solution, while to concoct CBD oil, plant extracts are infused in a carrier oil, like coconut, olive or hemp seed.

Tinctures are extremely concentrated, so it’s vital that you take them in small doses. Although you can’t be overdosed by using a tincture, it’s better to be sure to stay safe and restrict yourself. As a matter of fact, if you’re using a tincture for therapeutic purposes, a large dose isn’t even needed. Plus, tinctures generally come with droppers that make it easy to manage and control.


Generally, cannabis suppositories are created by blending cannabis-infused oils in a carrier oil that hardens at low temperatures. Rectal administration of cannabis oil can stimulate the cannabinoid receptors found there, this could be helpful for local conditions such as hemorrhoids or acute inflammation. The rectum also carries a number of key veins that deliver blood to your body, but it doesn’t look that suppositories handle cannabinoid absorption into your bloodstream.

Side effects of cancer treatment

Cancer treatments and cancer can cause side effects. Side effects are problems that happen once treatment affects healthy tissues or organs. Several of these Side effects are mentioned below:

  • Anemia and Appetite Loss
  • Bleeding and Bruising (Thrombocytopenia)
  • Constipation
  • Delirium
  • Diarrhea
  • Edema (Swelling)
  • Fatigue
  • Fertility Issues in Boys and Men
  • Fertility Issues in Girls and Women
  • Flu-Like Symptoms
  • Hair Loss (Alopecia)
  • Infection and Neutropenia
  • Lymphedema
  • Memory or Concentration Problems
  • Mouth and Throat Problems
  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Nerve Problems (Peripheral Neuropathy)
  • Immunotherapy and Organ-Related Inflammation
  • Pain
  • Sexual Health Issues in Men
  • Sexual Health Issues in Women
  • Skin and Nail Changes
  • Sleep Problems and Insomnia
  • Urinary and Bladder Problems

Keep in mind that side effects vary from person to person, even among people receiving the same type of cancer treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions

No, that is an unfounded and unsupported statement.

CBD oil can help reduce skin inflammation as well as help nausea and vomiting that may be caused by chemotherapy treatments.

Yes, it is legal as long as it contains less than 0.3% of thc within the cannabis product.

There is a lot more than needs to be studied about cannabis oil so patients should know to consult their physicians before using it.


Healthcanal has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

About Keith Myers

Keith J. Myers is Editor in Chief of the Health Canal. He has overseen and directed the editorial growth and skill of this website since 2012. Before joining Health Canal, Keith was a writer and editor who covered topics in CBD, health, science, and wellness.

Skin cancer can be avoided if we take the right precautions. We have the best CBD for skin cancer items in 2020 that you can purchase!

Skin Cancer

Updated on May 25, 2020. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer. If you suspect you have it, it’s essential that you go to your doctors and receive an official diagnosis to determine which kind of skin cancer you have. Knowing the type of cancer you have affects your prognosis and your options for treatment. Medical marijuana for skin cancer might be an ideal treatment to help you with your cancer symptoms and the side effects of treatment.

Skin Cancer Video Transcript:

The skin is the largest organ of the body. It serves many important functions including protecting the body from infection and regulating body temperature in fluids. The skin is primarily composed of three layers. The epidermis is the outer layer of the skin and contains basal and squamous cells. Melanocytes are also found in the epidermis. These are cells that contain pigment which allows the skin to tan and which also protect the deeper layers of the skin from the effects of UV sunlight exposure. The dermis, which lies below the epidermis, contains blood vessels, connective tissue, hair follicles and sweat glands. The subcutaneous layer, which contains the deepest layer of skin contains fat cells and collagen. Skin cancer occurs when there is an uncontrollable growth of abnormal cells in a layer of the skin. There are three common forms of skin cancer that are distinguished by the types of cells affected. Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer. This type of skin cancer does not typically spread but does require treatment. Basal cell carcinomas most often develop in areas of the skin exposed to the sun. Squamous cell carcinomas develop in the middle layer of the epidermis. This type of cancer can spread and can be life-threatening if not treated appropriately. Abnormal growths of malignancies called malignant melanomas are the most aggressive form of skin cancer. Melanomas can spread quickly to other parts of the body and to organs. This type of skin cancer can be fatal if not detected and treated early. People with fair skin are at increased risk for developing this form of cancer. Increased sun exposure and a history of sunburns increase the risk for developing skin cancer. Learn more below about how medical marijuana can help treat skin cancer.

How Marijuana Can Be an Effective Treatment for Skin Cancer

Hemp oil contains cannabidiol (CBD) and other cannabinoids, vitamins, minerals and many other components that have an array of health benefits. When you apply hemp oil topically, your skin absorbs it. Your skin contains cannabinoid receptors that make CBD a potential treatment for many conditions that range from dry skin to skin cancer. Since you apply CBD hemp oil directly on trouble areas, it works where you need it most without absorbing into your bloodstream.

The British Journal of Pharmacology published a peer-reviewed study showing several cannabinoids including cannabigerol (CBG), non-psychoactive cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabidivarin (CBV) that seem to “switch off” skin cells that grow uncontrollably. Uncontrolled growth of this kind is a factor in skin allergies and skin cancers.

In this study, the researchers documented the effects of these three cannabinoids on human skin cell lines. CBD was the most effective of the three in addressing unwanted DNA activity, with CBG coming in second. Although THC works as an effective skin allergy treatment, researchers are directing their attention to compounds in cannabis that don’t get you high, since many patients find that option more appealing.

The researchers in the study claim phytocannabinoids such as CBD that appear to stop detrimental DNA activity that promotes skin cancer may also be a new treatment that may help “switch off” unwanted gene activity on a larger scale.

In another study, carried out by the Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Public Health, and published in the Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, researchers discovered that cannabinoids reduced skin cancer by 90 percent over a 20-week period.

Skin Cancer & Medical Marijuana Research

A 2009 study explored the effects of cannabinoid receptor activation in living beings with skin cancer. Many initial studies use isolated cells in a container like a test tube. Advancing to living animals like mice can give us a better idea of how we can apply the results to humans, so the team behind this study examined the receptors in healthy skin and tumors in mice and humans.

Cannabinoids reduced cancer growth and spread across the board. They triggered cell death and lowered growth rates in the cells they administered cannabinoids to. Also, even though they killed cancerous tissue, normal tissue was left undamaged. If more data shows cannabis can kill cancer without hurting the rest of the body, we can make great developments in cancer treatment. Current therapies like chemotherapy don’t discriminate between tissues, causing harm to healthy cells, as well.

The team also found a few other details of note that can inform how we treat cancer with cannabis. As part of their methods, they tried using only cannabinoids that worked with the CB2 receptor when they looked at cancer cell death, which let them simulate treatment without making the mice subjects feel “high.” Also, cannabinoids seemed to decrease the activation of a compound that triggers tumor growth, cutting it off before it began.

What Symptoms of Skin Cancer Can Medical Marijuana Treat?

Marijuana for skin cancer can help ease a variety of symptoms that cancer and cancer treatment cause, such as:

  • AntineoplasticProperties: Animal and lab testing shows that medical cannabis may slow down or stop tumor growth.
  • Neuropathy: Neuropathy means “nerve damage.” It’s a common complication of cancer treatments. Patients experience numbness, weakness, burning or tingling in the hands and feet as a result of neuropathy. Medical weed offers patients experiencing neuropathy pain relief.
  • Cachexia or Anorexia: Cachexia is the occurrence of unintentional weight loss (wasting syndrome). Loss of fat and lean muscle is typical. A decline in functional abilities and fatigue often accompany the condition.

Anorexia is a medical term that doctors use for “loss of appetite.” The FDA approves Dronabinol (a synthetic cannabinoid) for anorexia-linked to AIDS, but not cancer specifically. However, medical cannabis increases a person’s appetite.

Other symptoms may include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Bone pain
  • Feeling unwell or exhausted
  • Sexual problems
  • Numbness or weakness in your legs or arms
  • Seizures
  • Headaches
  • Anxiety
  • Problems with sleep
  • Sadness
  • Anger
  • Feeling hopeless

Best Strains of Marijuana To Use For Skin Cancer

Although all medical weed offers similar therapeutic benefits, there are specific effects of indica and sativa that are different from one another.

Benefits of indica include:

  • Sleep-induction
  • Relaxation
  • Tiredness
  • Reduced nausea
  • Relaxed muscles
  • Inflammation reduction

Benefits of sativa include:

  • Increased energy
  • Mood elevation
  • Focus and clarity
  • Increased appetite
  • Nausea relief

Hybrid forms of medical pot provide a cross-section of benefits. Many hybrid strains increase relaxation and reduce nausea.

Some cannabis strains to consider and the symptoms they treat include:

  • Amnesia Haze (Sativa): depression, stress, pain and fatigue
  • Obama Kush (Indica): pain, nausea, stress, depression and insomnia
  • Pineapple Kush (Hybrid): stress, depression, nausea, pain and fatigue
  • Euphoria (Sativa): lack of appetite, muscle spasms, pain and depression
  • Chemo (Indica): nausea, pain, lack of appetite, insomnia and stress
  • Blue Frost (Hybrid): depression, insomnia, fatigue, pain and stress
  • Chocolate Kush (Indica): pain, insomnia, headaches and lack of appetite

Best Methods of Marijuana Treatment for Skin Cancer

By experimenting with different methods of marijuana and skin cancer treatment, you’ll identify which therapy works best for you. There are various ways to reap the benefits of cannabis — each with its own unique experience.

Cannabis Oil

Standard cancer treatments like radiation and chemotherapy can cause damage that requires repair before you can begin your marijuana treatment. A suppository of high-CBD cannabis oil may help purge your body of radiation after receiving radiation treatment. You may not like the idea of this method of therapy, but it’s a step you can take after receiving radiation to help prevent cancer recurrence. You won’t get “high” with this method, but you may feel relaxed after you apply the oil on your skin.

Transdermal Patch

Another possible treatment method is a transdermal patch. Transdermal patches work off your skin with a steady dose of marijuana and a controlled release of cannabinoids required for acting on cancer.


Smoking medical weed provides you with fast relief from your nausea, pain and other symptoms.


When deciding to use cannabis treatment, many people try the edible products. There is a variety of ways you can ingest your pot including brownies, crackers, cookies, chocolate bars, chews and even lollipops and ice cream. The relief you get will last for a while.


Use topical solutions like ointments, salves, lotions, sprays and other to relieve joint pain, muscle soreness and other problems. You get an effective treatment to relieve localized pain without getting “high.”


Vaporizing is another method of inhaling but is not as harsh on your lungs as smoking is.


Tincture products offer a way for you to spray or squirt your treatment into your mouth. Tinctures are usually a mixture of glycerin, cannabinoid oil and extracts or alcohol. With this method, you can control your dosage easily.


Medical weed can also come in the form of a suppository. With this method, the active ingredients absorb through your colon quickly and you feel the effects just as fast.

Ingesting Fresh Cannabis

When you consume fresh cannabis, you’re preserving all the active ingredients and contents, even the ones that might be reduced or eliminated during the heating or drying process. Juices and smoothies are the best way to ingest your fresh cannabis.

Getting Started with Medical Marijuana

Search for a medical marijuana doctor today to begin your cannabis for skin cancer treatment to alleviate your skin cancer symptoms. We can connect you with quality medical marijuana doctors in all legal marijuana states across the country to ensure you comply with your state laws. Let us help improve your quality of life by booking an appointment today.

What Is Skin Cancer?

Skin cancer occurs when you have abnormal skin cells that grow uncontrollably. It happens when you have skin cells with unrepaired DNA damage (usually by UV sun rays or tanning beds), which trigger mutations that lead the cells to rapidly multiply and turn into malignant tumors. Genetic defects are also a factor.

Types of Skin Cancer

There are several types of skin cancer including:


This type of skin cancer is the deadliest form. Melanoma often appears suddenly on your skin as a new dark spot or as a mole. It’s important that you receive a diagnosis early and treatment.

Actinic Keratoses (AK)

AKs are scaly, dry spots or patches and are precancerous growths. Individuals with AKs typically have fair skin and don’t usually notice their first AKs until after they’re 40 years old since AKs often grow after years of sun exposure.

Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)

The most common skin cancer type, basal cell carcinomas often develop in individuals with fair skin. They look like pearl-like, flesh-colored bumps or pink patches on your skin and are caused by indoor tanning or frequent sun exposure. Without treatment, they can grow into your bones and nerves, invade surrounding tissue and cause disfigurement and damage.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)

Squamous cell carcinoma is the next most common skin cancer and develops in people with light skin. SCC often looks like a scaly patch, a red firm bump or a sore that comes and goes. Frequent sun exposure is usually the cause, and without treatment, SCC can grow deep into your skin causing disfigurement and damage.

Merkel Cell Carcinoma (MCC)

Merkel cell carcinoma is a form of skin cancer that’s not very common. It starts when skin cells, known as Merkel cells, begin growing uncontrollably. MCC can proliferate rapidly and can be difficult to treat once it’s spread beyond your skin. Even though it’s less common than other skin cancers, it’s very dangerous.

MCC usually starts on skin that’s seen a lot of sun exposure like your neck, face and arms. However, it can start on any part of your body. Its tumors typically look like firm, red, pink or purple bumps or lumps on your skin. While not painful, they can multiply and may open up as sores or ulcers.

History of Skin Cancer

Skin cancer documentation has been around throughout history. In Peru, several 2400-year-old mummies showed signs of having skin cancer. In 1787, John Hunter, anatomist and Scottish surgeon, performed the first surgical procedure on a lesion thought to be skin cancer.

Hunter wasn’t sure what the lesion was and said it appeared to be a “cancerous fungus excrescence,” meaning a cancerous fungus. Rene Laennec, a French physician, was the first person to name melanoma as a disease. He discussed it in 1804 in a lecture, with his findings published in the year 1806.

In the year 1840, Samuel Cooper, a doctor, reported that melanoma in its advanced stage was untreatable. Even to this present time, there hasn’t been much progress keeping the situation just as true today.

Effects of Skin Cancer

Skin cancer mainly develops on areas of skin exposed to the sun such as:

  • Face
  • Scalp
  • Ears
  • Lips
  • Arms
  • Hands
  • Chest
  • Neck
  • Legs

However, it may develop on areas of your skin that rarely see sunlight like your genital area, palms and beneath your toenails and fingernails. Skin cancer affects individuals of any skin tone, including those with a darker complexion.

If you have skin cancer, especially if it’s in its advanced stage, you may experience some emotional feelings like:

  • Sadness
  • Anger
  • Fear
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Feeling out of control

These are common feelings that many people experience after receiving a diagnosis or if their treatment has changed. These cancer-related negative feelings may come and go, but they should improve over time as you adjust to the fact you have skin cancer and are receiving treatment. You’ll learn how to cope with these emotional feelings.

Skin Cancer Statistics

Facts and figures about skin cancer, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation include:

  • In the U.S. each year, in more than 5.4 million non-melanoma skin cancer cases, doctors are treating over 3.3 million individuals.
  • More people have received a diagnosis of skin cancer of the past 30 years than any other cancers combined.
  • In the course of a lifetime, one in five individuals in the U.S. will develop skin cancer.

The American Academy of Dermatology reports the following about skin cancer:

  • In the U.S., estimates indicate that almost 9,500 people receive a skin cancer diagnosis each day.
  • Over one million individuals in the U.S. are living with melanoma.
  • SCC and BCC are the two most common skin cancer types and when detected early and appropriately treated, are highly curable.

Current Treatments Available for Skin Cancer and Their Side Effects

There are several types of treatments for skin cancer including:


Cryosurgery or cryotherapy is a procedure where the doctor uses liquid nitrogen or argon gas to produce extreme cold to destroy abnormal tissue. Your doctor will use cryosurgery to treat external skin tumors by applying the liquid nitrogen directly to your cancer cells using a spraying device or cotton swab.

Possible side effects of cryosurgery include blister formation, bleeding, hair loss, headache and hypopigmentation.


Approved medications for BCC include:

  • Efudex
  • Aldara
  • Imiquimod
  • 5-FU
  • Erivedge
  • Fluorouracil
  • and more

Approved medications for Melanoma include:

  • Cotellic
  • Aldesleukin
  • Dacarbazine
  • Cobimetinib
  • Imlygic
  • Dacarbazine
  • Keytruda
  • Interleukin-2
  • and more

Common side effects for many of these drugs may include:

  • Stomach pain or upset
  • Chills
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Mouth sores
  • Diarrhea
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Dry skin
  • Decrease in appetite

Discuss side effects with your doctor for each medication.


Electrodesiccation is a straightforward and quick office-based procedure where your doctor uses an electric current through a needle-shaped electrode to deliver superheat to specific pinpoint areas of your skin. Possible side effects of electrodesiccation include bleeding, temporary lightening or darkening of the treated skin, scarring and infection.

Mohs Surgery

Mohs surgery is a procedure where your doctor completely removes lesions while being careful not to remove healthy adjacent skin. Mohs surgery can treat any area of your body, although surgeons usually use it for non-melanoma skin cancers that occur on your eyelids, ears, lips and nose.

Medical Cannabis for Skin Cancer

It’s no secret that there are medical benefits of marijuana. At least 85 distinct types of cannabinoids are in cannabis. These cannabinoids positively treat cancer symptoms and cancer treatment side effects.

See how medical marijuana could help relieve your skin cancer symptoms. Find patient reviews on local doctors and information on treatment options.