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Skin Cancer


Skin cancer happens when cells in your skin grow abnormally and out of control. The cancer cells can spread to other parts of your body.

Skin cancer may first appear as a new mole, a change in a growth or mole, a sore that doesn't heal, or an irritation of the skin.

Exposure to the sun is the most common cause of skin cancer.

There are three major types of skin cancer:

  • Basal cell skin cancer is the most common form. It grows slowly and seldom spreads to other parts of the body.
  • Squamous cell skin cancer also rarely spreads, especially if it is found and treated early. But it's more likely to spread than basal cell cancer.
  • Melanoma grows and spreads rapidly and can invade other organs, such as the liver, lungs, or brain.
ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerKathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerAmy McMichael, MD - Dermatology
Last RevisedOctober 12, 2012

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

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