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Is skin cancer serious?

Dr. David L. Katz, MD, MPH
Preventive Medicine
Skin cancer is common overall, but the life-threatening kind is not. There are three general types of skin cancer: basal cell, squamous cell, and melanoma. Only melanoma, which accounts for about 6% of skin-cancer cases, is fatal. Statistics show skin cancer is responsible for less than 2% of cancer deaths.

Skin cancer can be serious, but, luckily, it is often treatable. If it is found early in its development, skin cancer is usually treated successfully. However, if left untreated, the cancer can spread throughout the body and may become life-threatening. This is especially the case with melanoma, which is considered more dangerous than other types of skin cancer because it is more likely to spread quickly. Because early diagnosis and treatment usually result in a successful recovery, it is important to talk to your doctor as soon as you notice any symptoms of skin cancer.

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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.