Skin Cancer Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Rachel Torrens

Rachel is a Nurse Practitioner with experience working as a high school teacher, skin surgery center, and as a family NP.

Our skin is an amazingly strong organ, but like all our body parts it too can get sick. In this lesson, learn the three most common types of skin cancer and tips for reducing the risk of developing skin cancer.

Layers of Skin

I want you to picture a candy bar in your mind. First imagine a layer of chocolate, then a layer of chewy nougat, then a layer of caramel and peanuts, and finally another layer of chocolate. Yum!

Okay, so what does a candy bar have to do with skin cancer?! Well, skin is remarkably similar to a candy bar — it's similarly made of different layers, and within these layers are different types of skin cells. Certain types of skin cell are more likely to develop skin cancer.

Also, like the candy bar, certain environmental factors can change the structure. For example, if you took a candy bar and put it in a driveway on a hot summer day, what would happen? It would turn into a pile of chocolate goo. Similarly, when skin is exposed to the sun for long periods of time it changes. This is because the ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun penetrates the skin, and can mutate the skin cell from normal to cancerous.

Three Types of Skin Cancer

Keeping in mind that the skin has different types of skin cells, it is not surprising to learn that there is more than one type of skin cancer. The three most common types are:

  1. squamous cell carcinoma
  2. basal cell carcinoma
  3. melanoma

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is a skin cancer that starts in the squamous cells in the top layer of skin. They usually look like reddish, scaly patches, which may bleed or get crusty. SCCs can be itchy. The most common areas to find SCCs are on sun-exposed areas.

Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma (BCCs) is a skin cancer that starts in the basal cells in the top layer of skin. BCCs are the most common type of skin cancer. They usually appear as a white, pink, or flesh-colored, pearly bump. However, they can also present as reddish sores. BCCs tend to be slow-growing, and are usually easier to treat. Most often BCCs form on sun-exposed areas, although they may develop elsewhere in rare cases.

This BCC is a bump with a pearly finish.
basal cell cancer


Melanoma is a skin cancer that starts in the melanocytes, the pigment cells that give skin its unique color. Melanoma is the deadliest type of skin cancer because it can grow very quickly. It can also enter the bloodstream and spread throughout the entire body. Melanomas often look like brown-black moles that have:

  • grown larger, over six millimeters in diameter
  • become irregular in shape
  • changed in color or appearance

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account