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What is skin cancer?

Skin cancer is when some skin cells reproduce and grow abnormally, and have the ability to spread to other parts of the body. Skin cancer can affect anyone and can occur anywhere on the body. It is most common in areas that have been exposed to sunlight, like the face, neck, hands and arms.

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States; it is estimated that two million people in the United States are diagnosed with some form of skin cancer each year. When detected and treated early (before it spreads) skin cancer is highly curable.

Skin cancers are malignant growths of the skin. Each year, more than one million people in the United States are diagnosed with skin cancer.

The most common types of skin cancer affect the epidermis: basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. The least common but most deadly type of skin cancer is melanoma, a cancer that arises from pigment-producing melanocytes. Skin cancers develop when damaged skin cells grow out of control, usually because of the effects of sun exposure.

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer, making up nearly half of all diagnosed cases of cancer, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). There are two main groups of skin cancer: nonmelanoma skin cancer, the most common type of skin cancer, and melanoma (sometimes referred to as "malignant melanoma") skin cancer.
 
Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are the most common forms of nonmelanoma skin cancers. These types of cancer start in the skin's basal cell layer or squamous cell layer. Men are at higher risk than women for basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.
 
Melanoma is the least common but most aggressive of the three most common types of skin cancer. Melanoma originates in the skin's melanocytes -- the cells that produce pigment, or melanin. Melanoma typically appears in or around a mole, but it may also develop on clear skin. It may be a flat, brown, black or tan spot or a raised bump. Unlike a noncancerous mole, melanoma often is irregularly shaped.
Ben Kaminsky
Dermatology
The most common form of skin cancer is basal cell carcinoma--a skin cancer that develops in the basal layer of the skin, deeper than the surface layer. It is associated with aging and years of chronic sun exposure. Basal cell carcinoma seldom spreads to other parts of the body, but it can be disfiguring if not treated early. Some symptoms are translucent pearly bumps on sun-exposed skin. They often crust, ulcerate, and bleed, and are sometimes confused with ordinary pimples, which cause itching. They may cause extensive skin destruction, but while they have less chance of spreading (metastasize) via blood and lymph systems, they can cause skin destruction and should not be ignored.

Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common form of skin cancer. Skin symptoms are elevated opaque bumps that may appear mushroom-like or wart-like and take on a pink coloration. The lesions may blood ulcerate and become infected. They are often found on the lips, face, hands, and rim of the ears. Squamous cell carcinoma is capable of spreading to other organs and should be immediately referred to a dermatologist as soon as skin symptoms are detected.

The least common but the most serious skin cancer is malignant melanoma, which is capable of metastasizing via lymph and blood systems. The most common sites for melanoma are the neck, upper head, trunk, and lower extremities. Melanoma lesions appear like moles that are flat with indistinct or irregular boarders and have varying colors such as brown, blue, white, black and red. Incidence and diagnosis of malignant melanoma have increased dramatically, and no one is immune including those individuals with dark skin color.
Beyond Botox: 7 Strategies for Sexy, Ageless Skin Without Needles or Surgery

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Beyond Botox: 7 Strategies for Sexy, Ageless Skin Without Needles or Surgery

Sexy and ageless skin is possible for a woman at any age--and she doesn't have to resort to invasive treatments like Botox to get it-as long as she cares for her skin properly, says Ben Kaminsky,...

Skin cancer, which includes squamous cell cancer, basal cell cancer and melanoma, is the most common cancer in the United States and its incidence is steadily rising. In fact, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer during their lifetime. Approximately 1.3 million cases of highly curable basal cell and squamous cell cancers will be diagnosed this year. It is estimated that basal cell cancer alone will account for approximately 25% of all newly diagnosed cancers. According to the American Cancer Society's estimates for 2009, the United States is projected to have approximately 68,720 newly diagnosed cases of melanoma, which accounts for nearly 75% of skin cancer deaths, resulting in approximately 8,650 fatalities. Survival rates are much higher when skin cancer is detected and treated early, stressing the importance of self exams and periodic total body exams with a dermatologist.

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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.