What is Skin Cancer?
The skin is the body's largest organ. Its job is to protect internal organs against damage, heat and infection. The skin is also the most exposed organ to sunlight and other forms of harmful ultraviolet rays. There are three major types of skin cancer.
- Basal cell carcinoma: The most common form of skin cancer. These cancers begin in the outer layer of skin (epidermis).
- Squamous cell carcinoma: The second most common type of skin cancer. These cancers also begin in the epidermis.
- Melanoma: The most serious skin cancer, it begins in skin cells called melanocytes that produce skin color (melanin).
More than 1 million cases of basal and squamous cell skin cancers will be diagnosed in the United States this year. These cancers can usually be cured. Nearly 60,000 cases of melanoma are diagnosed annually. Nearly 5,000 men and 2,900 women will die from the disease this year. If caught and treated early, most skin cancers can be cured. Be sure to talk to your doctor about anything unusual on your skin.