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Skin Cancer: Home

What Is Skin Cancer?

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the U.S. It occurs in more than a million people each year. There are three main types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma.

The skin is the body's largest organ. It has two main layers: the inner layer, called the dermis, and the outer layer, called the epidermis. The dermis contains sweat glands, nerves, hair follicles, and blood vessels. The epidermis forms the protective, waterproof layer of the skin.

The epidermis, or outer layer, is made up of three types of living cells:

  • Squamous cells are flat and form the top layer of living cells.
  • Basal cells are round and lie directly under squamous cells.
  • Melanocytes are specialized skin cells that produce pigment called melanin.

Normally, cells in the body grow, divide, and produce more cells as needed. But sometimes the process goes wrong - cells become abnormal and multiply in an uncontrolled way. These extra cells form a mass of tissue, called a growth or tumor. Tumors can be relatively harmless (benign) or cancerous (malignant). A malignant tumor can spread, damage healthy tissue, and make a person ill.

Skin cancer occurs when abnormal cells form and multiply in an uncontrolled way in the epidermis, or abnormal cells from the epidermis invade the dermis of the skin. Basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma are skin cancers that are named for the epidermal cells from which they develop.

Source: NIHSeniorHealth - Skin Cancer 
Image source: National Cancer Institute

Books at the Library

Oncology Social Work Services and Counseling

Cancer can involve significant psychological, social, and economic challenges for patients and their families. How and if these challenges are addressed is an important aspect of a patient’s care plan. The Ridley-Tree Cancer Center employs clinical social workers who provide emotional and practical support for patients, their families, and their friends. Oncology Social Workers can provide advocacy and referrals as well as individual and family counseling services.

Services are available at no cost and are available to anyone in our community, regardless of where they are receiving medical care. 

For more information, call (805) 879-5690.  

Support Group

Tools for Coping with a Cancer Diagnosis

This group provides a safe place for those who are newly diagnosed with cancer to share and learn coping skills for the cancer journey. The group will discuss common issues that affect most people when they are initially diagnosed, such as shock, sharing the diagnosis or not, regaining control, dealing with a new self-image, living with uncertainty, and more.

Date and Time
2nd and 4th Monday of each month, 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
For upcoming dates and times, check the Cancer Center calendar.

Sansum Clinic - 317 West Pueblo Street, Board Room 1st floor
Parking is available on the property.

Resources provided by the Cancer Resource Library are for informational purposes only. The information in these materials may or may not apply to your specific condition, and should not be construed as medical advice. We strongly encourage you to consult your healthcare provider to review anything you learn through these resources.

Ridley-Tree Cancer Center provides comprehensive cancer treatment and support programs for patients and families. We are recognized for medical excellence, a strong clinical research program, and a multidisciplinary approach to cancer prevention.

Cancer Resource Library | 540 West Pueblo Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93105 | (805) 563-5807 | |