The Difference Between Basal Cell Carcinoma and Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are the two most common types of skin cancers. According to the American Cancer Society, over 5 million cases of basal cell and squamous cell cancers are diagnosed every year. Though, basal cell carcinoma occurs more often, taking credit for about 80% of these cases. Other than the disparities in occurrence, what is the difference between basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas? You may also be wondering is squamous cell worse than basal cell, or vice versa. Here is some insight.

Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma begins in the basal cells—a type of cell within the skin that produces new skin cells as old ones die off. Basal cell carcinoma often appears as a slightly transparent bump on the skin, though it can take other forms.


Basal cell carcinoma occurs when one of the skin’s basal cells develops a mutation in its DNA. Most basal cell carcinomas are thought to be caused by long-term exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sunlight and commercial tanning beds. Though, other causes can contribute to the risk and development of basal cell carcinoma.


The symptoms of basal cell carcinoma occasionally resemble the features of non-cancerous skin conditions, like psoriasis or eczema. This type of skin cancer appears as an abnormal, uncontrolled growth or lesion on the skin. Basal cell carcinomas often look like open sores, red patches, pink growths, shiny bumps, or scars. The good news is that basal cell carcinomas rarely spread (metastasize) beyond the original tumor site to become life threatening. However, if not treated promptly, they can become disfiguring.


There are several basal cell carcinoma treatment options available to patients, including: Mohs micrographic surgery, excisional surgery, electrosurgery, cryosurgery and laser surgery. These treatments all have one thing in common: the word surgery.

For patients with basal cell carcinoma, there is another option: Superficial Radiotherapy, or SRT, the non-surgical basal cell carcinoma treatment choice for removing non-melanoma skin cancer.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma develops in the thin, flat squamous cells that make up the outer layer of the skin. Squamous cells are found all over the body, and this type of cancer can occur anywhere squamous cells are found. Though this form of skin cancer is not usually life threatening, one major difference between between basal cell and squamous cell cancers is that squamous cell cancers are more likely to grow deeper into the layers of your skin and spread to other parts of the body. While still relatively uncommon, it is considered an aggressive form of cancer, if left untreated.


In most cases, squamous cell carcinoma is the result of prolonged exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or tanning beds and lamps. Other causes may include: fair skin, a history of sunburns, a personal history of precancerous skin lesions or skin cancer, or a weakened immune system.


The symptoms of squamous cell carcinoma often appear as scaly, irritated skin, or elevated growths similar to warts. In general, any change in a preexisting skin growth, such as wounds or sores that fail to heal, or the development of new growths on the skin, should be consulted on with a doctor immediately.


Squamous cell carcinoma treatment depends on the size, location and aggressiveness of the tumor. Traditional treatment options—including Mohs—has involved invasive incisions that cut through healthy tissue, leading to a lengthy recovery and unsightly scarring. Sensus Healthcare is changing all that with a non-surgical treatment option—the SRT-100™.

Looking for a painless, non-surgical treatment option for your basal cell or squamous cell carcinoma? The SRT-100™ could be perfect for you. This revolutionary machine utilizes Superficial Radiation Therapy to successfully treat non-melanoma skin cancers. Contact Sensus Healthcare today for more information or for help finding treatment near you.

The Benefits of SRT

Along with eliminating the risks for post-surgical infections and complications, the SRT-100™ provides patients and physicians with a safe and effective treatment option that offers many benefits, including:

  1. 95%+ cure rates that rival surgery
  2. No anesthesia, cutting, bleeding, stitching or pain
  3. No downtime or lifestyle restrictions
  4. Super cosmesis, no unsightly scarring
  5. No need for post-treatment reconstructive surgeries