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Skin Cancer FAQ

A Message
From Your Doctor

Decrease your risk for getting Skin Cancer

Despite risks, many believe that suntans look healthy and attractive. As children and adults we are exposed to dangerous Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.

More than 90% of all skin cancers are the result of exposure to ultraviolet radiation. UVA rays may have a significant effect on the development of melanoma, the most dangerous type of skin cancer. UV exposure can damage your immune system and your skin, causing a wrinkled, leathery appearance or premature aging.

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What are common skin cancers?

Basal cell carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma BCC is the most commonly diagnosed form of skin cancer. Basal cells are small, round skin cells found in your outer skin layer. The majority of basal cell carcinomas are found in your face, but they can grow on any unprotected area of your body. Fair skinned people with light hair, blue, green or gray eyes are more likely to get BCC. More than 75,000 people are treated for basal cell carcinoma each year.

Squamous cell skin cancer

The second most common skin cancer is Squamous cell carcinoma with more than 200,000 cases diagnosed each year. Squamous cells are small, flat cells found in the outer layer of the skin. Chronic exposure to the sun causes most of this type of cancer so typically tumors appear on the face, neck, scalp, hands, shoulders, arms and back. These tumors may also occur in those with genital warts, psoriasis, or those who smoke or are exposed to industrial carcinogens. If you have suffered an injury, had radiation, have an immune system disorder, or have a scar, you may develop tumors in these areas.


Melanoma is a malignant skin cancer that appears in the cells that make the brown color in your skin, hair and eyes. It is concentrated in moles that may be brown, black, flesh-toned or other shades. Melanoma can be a deadly skin cancer with greater risk of fatality than either basal cell or squamous cell carcinomas. Early detection and diagnosis are key to successful treatment of melanoma.

What do skin cancers often act or look like?

Basal cell carcinomas are often pink, pearly bumps or pink scaly patches that do not heal well. They often bleed with minimal trauma. Squamous cell carcinomas may act similarly. They often present as fast growing bumps. These tumors most commonly occur in areas of high sun exposure, such as the head, neck and arm areas, but can occur on any body surface.

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