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Skin cancer is an abnormal growth of skin cells that usually develops as a result of exposure to the sun. If treated early, skin cancer can often be cured. If left untreated, skin cancer can be deadly.
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States and occurs in people of all ages, including children and adolescents. It can occur on almost any area of the body, including areas that don’t get much sun, such as the soles of your feet, palms of your hands and fingernail beds.
Of the three major types of skin cancer, basal cell and squamous cell cancers are found on the top layers of the skin and usually can be completely cured. Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer and is the most likely to spread to other tissues in the body. Other types of skin cancer are more rare, such as Merkel cell carcinoma and Kaposi sarcoma.
Skin cancer can appear as moles, scaly patches, open sores or raised bumps. People with a family history of skin cancer, people who often get sunburned and those who have freckles, light skin or blue eyes are at greater risk.
Using broad-spectrum sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher) year round, avoiding sun exposure during the middle of the day, avoiding tanning beds and wearing sun-protective clothing and sunglasses can help reduce the risk of skin cancer.