What Is Skin Cancer?

Skin cancer is a type of cancer in which malignant or abnormal cells grow in the skin.

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), over one million people in the US are diagnosed with skin cancer every year. Research has led to better methods of diagnosing and treating this disease. The NCI says skin cancer is now almost 100% curable if found early and treated promptly.

Types of skin cancer


A disease of the skin in which cancer cells are found in the melanocytes, the cells that produce color in the skin through a pigment called melanin.

Merkel cell carcinoma

A rare, rapidly growing cancer in which cancer cells are found on or just beneath the skin and in hair follicles.

Non-melanoma skin cancer

A type of skin cancer that forms in the lower part of the outer layer of the skin or in squamous cells, but not in the skin cells that make pigment (melanocytes).

Cutaneous lymphoma

A rare group of Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma that arise primarily in the skin.

Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are research studies that evaluate a new medical approach, device, drug, or other treatment. As a Stanford Health Care patient, you may have access to the latest, advanced clinical trials.

Open trials refer to studies currently accepting participants. Closed trials are not currently enrolling, but may open in the future.

Before beginning treatment, ask your doctor about any clinical trials you should consider. Learn more about clinical trials for cancer patients.

Our Clinic


The Skin Cancer Program is a leading innovator in the research and treatment of skin cancer, including melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, Merkel cell carcinoma, and cutaneous lymphoma. Through ongoing research and development, our team is improving the diagnosis of skin cancer and advancing the field of treatment options.