Skin cancer is a term used to describe the uncontrollable growth of abnormal skin cells. 1 in 5 Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer in their lifetime.
There are three main types of skin cancer:
- Melanoma. This type of cancer is characterized by the appearance of malignant tumors known as melanomas that develop within the skin or on surface as mole-like growths. The abnormal cell division that gives rise to melanomas is caused by damage to crucial DNA segments, most often due to excessive UV radiation from sun exposure. Melanoma causes an estimated 9,710 deaths in the US each year, making it the most dangerous form of skin cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, more than 120,000 new cases of melanoma are diagnosed each year.
- Basal cell carcinoma (BCC). This type of cancer is characterized by lesions that form in the innermost layer of the skin. Basal Cell Carcinoma is thought to be the result of long-term exposure to excessive UV radiation or exposure to short-term, intense UV radiation. BCC is the most common type of skin cancer, with an estimated 2. 8 million cases diagnosed yearly, though it rarely spreads to other parts of the body and is typically treatable if caught early.
- Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). This type of cancer is characterized by the abnormal growth of cells known as squamous cells, which are located in the epidermis, or the outermost layer of the skin. These growths often look similar to scabs, warts, or sores, and are generally raised with a depression in the middle. According to the American Cancer Society, about 20% of skin cancer cases are diagnosed as squamous cell carcinoma. Like basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma rarely metastasizes (spreads to other parts of the body), and is usually treatable with an early diagnosis.