Most skin cancers occur from extended and unprotected exposure to the sun. Skin cancers are broken down into two groups based on the cells in which the disease occurs.
One group, keratinocyte carcinomas consist of cancers whose cells are similar to those found in the epidermis. The two most common types are basal and squamous. Treatment for both types is very effective.
The second group of skin cancers is melanomas. Melanomas begin in the pigment-making cells of the skin. Unlike basal and squamous cell cancers, if too advanced, melanomas can be serious and difficult to treat.
Melanoma occurs when abnormal skin cells grow at a rapid, uncontrollable rate. Melanoma is largely noted by changes in skin growths, such as moles and birth marks, with regard to shape size, color or texture. Often appearing as a flat, irregularly shaped mole, melanoma can change color, expel fluid, be lumpy or round and smooth.
Most often found on the chests and backs of men and on the legs of women, melanoma often grows on unmarked skin, though it can begin in existing moles or birthmarks. Melanomas are not as common as basal and squamous cell cancers and have the ability to spread and begin to attack surrounding tissues if not detected at an early stage. If detected in early stages, however, the disease is very treatable.
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