What is Skin Cancer?

leukemia_cancer_awarenessMay is Skin Cancer Awareness Month and we would like to spread the message about early detection and prevention.

What is skin cancer?

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the world, and more than 3.5 million new cases will be diagnosed in the United States this year alone.  Skin cancer is caused by the abnormal growth of the skin cells, largely due to over exposure to the sun.  Many people don’t know, but there are actually four different types of skin cancer, some more severe than others.

Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type and typically appears on the parts of the body that get the most sun exposure like the head and neck. Basal cell does not typically spread to other parts of the body.

Melanoma is the most deadly form of skin cancer and anyone can get it. Melanoma can metastasize and spread to other parts of the body. Although dangerous, when detected and treated early melanoma has an almost 100% cure rate

Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common type of skin cancer and it affects about 700,000 people a year in the United States Similar to basal cell, squamous cell is typically found on severely sun-damaged skin. Unlike basal cell, squamous cell can spread to other parts of the body.

Finally there is Actinic Keratoses, which is also typically found on badly damaged skin. Actinic Keratoses is considered precancerous and many people will have new patches develop for life.

The most important step to treating and surviving skin cancer is early detection.

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