What skin cancer is...

It is a disease in which cancer cells are found in the outer layers of the skin and it is the most common of all cancers. There are two general types of skin cancer: one is non-melanoma cancer, which has been associated with cumulative sun exposure; the other is melanoma skin cancer, which has been associated with short, intense sun exposure.


Statistics of skin cancer


The American Cancer Society (1999) estimated that about 1 million cases of non-melanoma skin cancer (basal cell skin cancer and squamous cell skin cancer) and 44,200 new cases of melanoma would be diagnosed in the United States during 1999.

Melanoma accounts for about 4% of skin cancer cases, but causes about 79% of skin cancer deaths. The number of new melanoma diagnosed in the United States is increasing. About 7,300 people in the US were expected to die of melanoma during 1999.


Signs & Symptoms of melanoma

Asymmetry: One half of the mole does not match the other half.

Border Irregularity: The edges of the mole are ragged or notched.

Color: The color over the mole is not the same. They may be different shades of tan, brown, or black, and sometimes red, blue, or white.

Diameter: The mole is wider than about inch, although doctors are finding smaller melanomas in recent years.

Some melanomas do not fit the ABCD rule described above, so be aware of changes in your skin and see a doctor if you have questions.


Medical treatments for skin cancer

Surgery: taking out the cancer in an operation

Chemotherapy: using drugs to kill cancer cells

Radiation therapy: using high-dose x-rays or other high-energy rays to kill cancer cells

Biological therapy: using your body's immune system to fight cancer


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