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Skin Cancer Facts

What is the skin?

The skin is the largest organ of the body. It covers the internal organs and protects them from injury; serves as a barrier between germs, such as bacteria, and internal organs; and prevents the loss of too much fluid. The skin helps control body temperature and get rid of some wastes. Certain cells in the skin communicate with the brain and allow temperature, touch, and pain sensations.

How many people get skin cancer?

Skin cancer is the most common of all cancers. It accounts for nearly half of all cancers in the United States. More than 2 million cases of basal and squamous cell skin cancer are found in this country each year. Melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, will account for more than 75,000 cases of skin cancer in 2012.

What are basal and squamous cell skin cancers?

These types of skin cancer are classified as non-melanomas. They usually start in the basal cells or squamous cells, which is how they get their names. These cells are found at the base of the outer layer of the skin.

Most non-melanoma skin cancers develop on sun-exposed areas of the body, like the face, ear, neck, lips, and the backs of the hands. Depending on the type, they can be fast or slow growing, but they rarely spread to other parts of the body.

Basal cell or squamous cell cancers are highly likely to be cured if found and treated early.

What is melanoma skin cancer?

Melanoma is a cancer that begins in the melanocytes – the cells that produce the skin coloring or pigment known asmelanin. Melanin helps protect the deeper layers of the skin from the harmful effects of the sun.

Melanoma is almost always curable when it is found in its very early stages. Although melanoma accounts for only a small percentage of skin cancer, it is far more dangerous than other skin cancers and causes most skin cancer deaths.

Melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, will account for more than 75,000 cases of skin cancer in 2012. It accounts for almost 9,000 of the nearly 12,000 skin cancer deaths each year.

The overall 5-year survival rate for melanoma is 91%. For localized melanoma, the 5-year survival rate is 98%; survival rates for regional and distant stage diseases are 62% and 16%, respectively. About 84% of melanomas are diagnosed at a localized stage. You can read more in our document Melanoma Skin Cancer online at  or call us for a free copy.

Other types of skin cancer

There are a few rare types of skin cancer such as keratoacanthomas, Merkel cell carcinoma, skin lymphoma, Kaposi sarcoma, skin adnexal tumors, and sarcomas. These are all non-melanoma types. You can find out more about these and other non-melanoma cancers in our document Skin Cancer at , or call us for details.

What are the risk factors for skin cancer?

Risk factors for non-melanoma and melanoma skin cancers include:

  • Unprotected and/or excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation (sunlight or tanning booths)
  • Pale complexion (difficulty tanning, easily sunburned, natural red or blond hair color)
  • Occupational exposures to coal tar, pitch, creosote, arsenic compounds, or radium
  • You or other members of your family have had skin cancers
  • Multiple or unusual moles
  • Severe sunburns in the past

What are the signs and symptoms of skin cancer?

Skin cancer can be found early, and both doctors and patients play important roles in finding skin cancer. If you have any of the following symptoms, tell your doctor.

  • Any change on your skin, especially in the size or color of a mole, growth, or spot, or a new growth (even if it has no color)
  • Scaliness, oozing, bleeding, or change in the appearance of a bump or nodule
  • The spread of pigmentation (color) beyond its border, such as dark coloring that spreads past the edge of a mole or mark
  • A change in sensation, such as itchiness, tenderness, or pain

Can skin cancer be prevented?

The best ways to lower the risk of non-melanoma skin cancer are to avoid long exposure to intense sunlight and practice sun safety. You can still exercise and enjoy the outdoors while using sun safety at the same time. Here are some ways to be sun safe:

  • Avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Seek shade: Look for shade, especially in the middle of the day when the sun’s rays are strongest. Practice the shadow rule and teach it to children. If your shadow is shorter than you, the sun’s rays are at their strongest.
  • Slip on a shirt: Cover up with protective clothing to guard as much skin as possible when you are out in the sun. Choose comfortable clothes made of tightly woven fabrics that you cannot see through when held up to a light.
  • Slop on sunscreen: Use sunscreen and lip balm with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher. Apply a generous amount of sunscreen (about a palmful) and reapply every 2 hours and after swimming, toweling dry, or sweating. Use sunscreen even on hazy or overcast days.
  • Slap on a hat: Cover your head with a wide-brimmed hat, shading your face, ears, and neck. If you choose a baseball cap, remember to protect your ears and neck with sunscreen.
  • Wrap on sunglasses: Wear sunglasses with 99% to 100% UV absorption to provide optimal protection for the eyes and the surrounding skin.
  • Follow these practices to protect your skin even on cloudy or overcast days. UV rays travel through clouds.
  • Avoid other sources of UV light. Tanning beds and sun lamps are dangerous. They also damage your skin in other ways.

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Comment by + Iuuoɔǝut+ on March 26, 2013 at 8:00am

Astighfirullah

Comment by + 'DoLL Fãrî' Ҿ on March 25, 2013 at 9:58am

Comment by + Iuuoɔǝut+ on March 24, 2013 at 12:24pm

yes + Aɴɢᴇʟ u r right

Comment by ɖɒȠλɒȽɄɈɌȪɀȊ on March 24, 2013 at 10:21am

g()()d !!! in4mative

Comment by + Angel Sweet Doll(MBA) + on March 24, 2013 at 9:45am

informative

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