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Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of their lifetime.
The three main types of skin cancer include: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma, which is less common but most serious. Other nonmelanoma skin cancers include Kaposi's sarcoma, Merkel cell carcinoma, and cutaneous lymphoma.
Skin cancer occurs when mutations form in the DNA of developing skin cells, causing the cells to grow out of control. Most often, the damage to skin cells results from exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.
Therefore, most skin cancers develop on sun-exposed areas of the body, like the face, lips, ears, scalp, neck and hands. However, skin cancer can also form on areas not normally exposed to sunlight, such as the spaces between the toes, under the nails, or even in the lining of the mouth, nose, vagina or anus.
Metastatic melanoma occurs when cancer spreads beyond the surface of the skin to other areas of the body, such as the lymph nodes.
Some common risk factors for skin cancer include:
Skin cancer can have many different appearances. It can be shiny, pale, waxy, dry, scaly, rough, smooth, flat or firm. A common sign of skin cancer is changes on the skin, such as a new spot/lesion or an existing one that changes in size, shape, color or feel.
Specific features may include:
Fortunately, many skin cancers respond well to treatments, especially when detected early. The recommended treatment depends on several factors, including the disease type, size, location, and extent.
Surgery is a common treatment option for skin cancer. Advances in surgical techniques allow doctors to remove cancerous tissue, preserve healthy skin tissue, and minimize scarring. Other skin cancer treatments may include chemotherapy, radiation therapy and/or immunotherapy.
There are new and innovative treatment options for advanced skin cancer too. For example, a new FDA-approved immunotherapy treatment, YervoyTM, is now available for previously untreated or unresectable metastatic melanoma.
NOTE: THIS INFORMATION IS NOT INTENDED NOR IMPLIED TO BE A SUBSTITUTE FOR PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL ADVICE. ALWAYS SEEK THE ADVICE OF YOUR PHYSICIAN OR OTHER QUALIFIED HEALTHCARE PROVIDER REGARDING SKIN CANCER.
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