Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is the most common kind of cancer in the United States. There are different types of this disease. The two most common are basal cell cancer and squamous cell cancer. Melanoma, another type, is less common, but more dangerous. Nearly 70,000 Americans are diagnosed with melanoma each year, and it causes 8,700 deaths. Melanoma is now twice as common as it was two decades ago. The increase is so dramatic that the U.S. Surgeon General has issued a call to action to take steps to prevent melanoma.

One way to protect yourself from skin cancer is by protecting your skin from getting too much of the sun's ultraviolet light. It's especially important to avoid getting sunburned, as this increases the risk of melanoma. Using sunscreen and wearing protective clothing, including a hat with a brim, are good ways to do this.

While sun protection is important for adults, it's even more important for children. Most of the average American's sun exposure happens before age 18. Even a couple of blistering sunburns in childhood increase the risk of later skin cancer.

Skin Cancer Articles

On call: Does skin cancer come back?

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) of the skin is very treatable when completely removed. However, it does recur at some other spot on the body in about 40% of people. Routine skin examinations can find repeat cancers early. (Locked) More »

Tips to help prevent and treat rosacea

16 million Americans struggle with rosacea, a skin condition characterized by flare-ups of reddened and sometimes bumpy facial skin. Over time, rosacea can reveal blood vessels under the skin’s surface. Treatments include topical medications such as gels, creams, and lotions that contain either metronidazole or azeleic acid; very low doses of antibiotics, such as doxycycline; laser therapy; and avoiding triggers, such as hot food. (Locked) More »

Latest Mohs skin cancer surgery guidelines

Dermatologists now have official guidelines for Mohs surgery, a procedure that removes skin cancer while minimizing damage to surrounding healthy tissue. The new Appropriate Use Criteria (AUC) for Mohs surgery, approved by a number of dermatologic associations, will help doctors better select patients for the procedure. Mohs surgery is warranted in 200 out of 270 scenarios named in the AUC. Smaller, more superficial skin growths may not be right for Mohs surgery. (Locked) More »

New attack on precancerous patches

Actinic keratoses (AK) are small pea-sized rough patches, often scaly and with surrounding redness, on sun-exposed skin. They look minor, but they can progress to skin cancer. Typical treatment involves freezing them, scraping them, using chemical peels, or applying medicated creams for weeks. One new treatment is photodynamic therapy (PDT). Medicine applied to AK is absorbed only by the problem cells, and then it kills them when a light is shined onto the skin. All treatments are almost always successful, although some AK can reoccur. (Locked) More »

Do-it-yourself skin cancer checks

Skin cancer checks need to be a year-round maintenance effort. About 50% of melanomas are identified by patients, and even more are discovered if the skin is examined with the help of a partner. Using a computer-based tutorial to learn how to check for skin cancers can help you catch the problems early. Pay particular attention to spots that have grown or display a variety of hues, such as tan, black, brown, pearly, or translucent; moles or pigmented spots that have changed in color, mass, or contour; or sores that continually crust, bleed, itch, hurt, or don’t heal.   (Locked) More »