The skin is the largest organ of the body.

It has many functions, such as:

     -Covering the internal organs and protecting them from injury

     -Serving as a barrier to germs such as bacteria

     -Preventing the loss of too much water and other fluids

     -Helping control body temperature

     -Protecting the rest of the body from ultraviolet (UV) rays

     -Helping the body make vitamin D

 

Did you know...

These types of skin cancer start in the basal cells or squamous cells of the skin, which is how they get their names. These cells are found in the outer layer of the skin.

Most basal and squamous cell cancers develop on sun-exposed areas of the skin, like the face, ears, neck, lips, and the backs of the hands.

Basal cell cancers tend to grow slowly and rarely spread to other parts of the body. Squamous cell cancers are more likely to grow into deeper layers of skin and to spread, although this is still not common.

Both basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers can be cured if found and treated early – when they are small and have not spread. But either type can cause problems if it is left untreated.

What are basal and squamous cell skin cancers?

What is melanoma skin cancer?

Melanoma is a cancer that begins in the melanocytes – the cells that make the brown skin pigment known as melanin, which gives the skin its color. Melanin helps protect the deeper layers of the skin from the harmful effects of the sun. Melanoma can start on nearly any part of the skin, even in places that are not normally exposed to the sun, such as the genital or anal areas. Though melanoma most often affects the skin (including under the nails), it can also start in other parts of the body, such as in the eyes or mouth.Melanoma is almost always curable when it’s found in its very early stages. Although melanoma accounts for only a small percentage of skin cancers, it’s much more likely to grow and spread to other parts of the body, where it can be hard to treat. Because of this, melanoma causes most skin cancer deaths, accounting for nearly 10,000 of the more than 13,000 skin cancer deaths each year.

What are the risks?

Too much exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation (from sunlight or tanning beds and lamps)

  • Pale skin (easily sunburned, doesn’t tan much or at all, natural red or blond hair)

  • Exposure to large amounts of coal tar, paraffin, arsenic compounds, or certain types of oil

  • You or members of your family have had skin cancers

  • Multiple or unusual moles

  • Severe sunburns in the past

  • Weakened immune system

  • Older age (although melanomas can also occur in younger people)

Signs & Symptoms

Skin cancer can be found early, and both people and their doctors play important roles in finding skin cancer. If you have any of these symptoms, see a doctor:

  • Any change on your skin, especially in the size or color of a mole, growth, or spot, or a new growth (even if it has no color)

  • Scaliness, roughness, oozing, bleeding, or a change in the way an area of skin looks

  • A sore that doesn’t heal

  • The spread of pigmentation (color) beyond its border, such as dark coloring that spreads past the edge of a mole or mark

  • A change in sensation, such as itchiness, tenderness, or pain