Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. More than 500,000 new cases are reported each year. Skin cancers can be found on any part of the body, but the majority (about 80 %) appear on the face, head or neck area. All types of skin cancers start from the cells located within the skin. There are different normal cells that constitute skin, and cancers can arise from the different cell types. For whatever reason, a certain cell can start to divide in an uncontrolled fashion, and this is what forms a cancer. The most common type of skin cancer is Basal Cell Carcinoma. “Carcinoma” is just another term for “cancer”. If you haveto have a skin cancer, this is the best type to have because it is a slow growing type of cancer that rarely spreads beyond its original site. Although basal cell carcinoma is seldom life-threatening, if left untreated, itcan grow deep beneath the skin and into the underlying tissue and bone, causing extensive destruction and requiring major reconstructive surgery. This is a particular problem if the cancer is located around the eye. This is why we like to treat these cancers at an early stage. The second type of skin cancer is the Squamous Cell Carcinoma. It is more aggressive than the basal cell carcinoma and in some cases can spread to other parts of the body, especially into regional lymph nodes. The most common sites for the squamous cell carcinoma are the lips, face and ears. This type of cancer can become life threatening if not treated. A third form of skin cancer if the most serious, but fortunately the least common. This is the malignant melanoma. If not diagnosed and treated at an early stage, this cancer may spread throughout the body and if often deadly. If discovered and treated early, it can be completely cured.
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