The skin is made up of many different types of cells, many of which are constantly moving. As round basal cells beneath the surface rise to replace dead, flaking squamous cells on the surface, they flatten. Melanocytes tan the skin in the sun, and Merkel cells give the skin its touch sensitivity. When these cells are injured, they have the potential to grow into skin cancer. Dr. Jay Mehta, a seasoned dermatologist, is highly skilled and knowledgeable in diagnosing and treating skin cancer. If you’ve seen any changes in your skin or have a family history of skin cancer, we recommend scheduling a skin cancer screening at Arizona Skin Institute in Surprise, Arizona, near Phoenix.

Causes of Skin Cancer

UV (ultraviolet) light exposure, most typically from sunshine, is by far the most common cause of skin cancer. The following are some of the other major causes of skin cancer:

  • Utilization of tanning booths
  • Immunosuppression, or immune system weakening
  • Exposure to abnormally high doses of radiation, such as that emitted by X-rays
  • Contact with specific chemicals, such as arsenic and hydrocarbons in tar, oils, and soot.

Types of Skin Cancer

Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal cells are circular cells that can be seen in the lower epidermis. Basal cell carcinoma is most commonly found on the head and neck, but it can occur elsewhere on the skin. It is primarily caused by sun exposure or develops in people who were exposed to radiation therapy as children.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

The majority of the epidermis is made up of squamous cells, which are flat, scale-like cells. Because squamous cell carcinoma is mostly induced by sun exposure, it can appear anywhere on the skin. It can also appear on skin that has been burned, chemically injured, or exposed to x-rays. Squamous cell carcinoma is most usually detected on the lips, at scar sites, and on the skin outside the mouth, anus, and a woman’s vagina.

Merkel Cell Cancer

Merkel cell cancer is a rare, aggressive cancer that grows quickly. It begins in hormone-producing cells close beneath the epidermis, as well as in hair follicles.


Melanocytes are dispersed cells that exist where the epidermis meets the dermis. These cells create melanin, the pigment that gives skin its color. Melanoma is the most deadly type of skin cancer and begins in melanocytes.

Contact Arizona Skin Institute immediately if you suspect you have skin cancer. To schedule an appointment, call (623) 259-4372 or visit 11340 W Bell Rd Suite #127, Surprise, AZ 85378.

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