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How many kinds of skin cancer exist?

Dr. Ellen Marmur, MD
Dermatology
There are as many different kinds of cancer as there are types of cells in the skin. The mind reels with the frightening (although much more uncommon) possibilities. Most skin cancers are linked to sun exposure and immunosuppression. Merkel cell carcinoma, for example, is a rare but aggressive skin cancer that starts in the neuroendocrine cells called Merkel cells. These cells work with the nervous system and make the skin sensitive to the touch. There are approximately 1,200 new cases of Merkel cell carcinoma diagnosed in the United States every year, compared with almost 60,000 new cases of melanoma and over one million cases of nonmelanoma skin cancers. Angiosarcoma is another cancer, which begins in the lining of the blood vessels. It can arise anywhere but often originates in the dermis of the skin. Cancers can develop in the fat cells of the skin and one, dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans or DFSP, in the fibroblast cells that make collagen. DFSP is an aggressive cancer that can track the whole dermal level of the skin and spread quickly. If something like this grows, changes, or just does not go away, please have it looked at by a doctor. Too often, when symptoms of these cancers appear on the skin, it's already advanced. Indeed, a cancer that begins somewhere inside the body can migrate to the skin. Usually metastasis on the skin is nodular - something you can feel as well as see, like a little line of marbles under the surface.
Simple Skin Beauty: Every Woman's Guide to a Lifetime of Healthy, Gorgeous Skin

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Simple Skin Beauty: Every Woman's Guide to a Lifetime of Healthy, Gorgeous Skin

What if a leading dermatologist just happened to be your best friend and you could ask her anything? DR. ELLEN MARMUR, a world-renowned New York City dermatologist, answers all your questions with...

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.