Types of Skin Cancer

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By far the most common type of skin cancer is basal cell carcinoma. Fortunately, it’s also the least dangerous kind; it tends to grow slowly and rarely spreads beyond its original site. Though basal cell carcinoma is seldom life-threatening, if left untreated it can grow deep beneath the skin and into the underlying tissue and bone, causing serious damage (particularly if it’s located near the eye).

Squamous cell carcinoma is the next most common kind of skin cancer, frequently appearing on the lips, face, or ears. It sometimes spreads to distant sites, including lymph nodes and internal organs. Squamous cell carcinoma can become life threatening if it’s not treated.

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Squamous cell carcinoma may begin as a red, scaly patch, a group of crusted nodules, or a sore that doesn’t heal.

A third form of skin cancer, malignant melanoma, is the least common, but its incidence is increasing rapidly, especially in the Sunbelt states. Malignant melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer. If discovered early enough, it can be completely cured. If it’s not treated quickly, however, malignant melanoma may spread throughout the body and is often deadly.

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