According to the American Cancer Society, more than one million cases of basal and squamous cell skin cancers will be diagnosed in the United States this year. These cancers can usually be cured. In addition, 87,110 cases of melanoma will be diagnosed. Skin cancer is 10 times more common among Caucasians than African-Americans.
Basal cell carcinoma: The most common form of skin cancer, and is very curable. This cancer begins in the outer layer of skin (epidermis). Basal cell cancer rarely spreads to other parts of the body. Radiation therapy is very effective for treating basal cell cancers that have not spread elsewhere. Other common treatments include surgery, chemotherapy and cryosurgery.
Squamous cell carcinoma: The second most common type of skin cancer. This cancer also begins in the epidermis. Radiation therapy can be used to treat squamous cell cancers that start on the skin and sometimes nearby lymph nodes with or without surgery. Other common treatments include surgery, chemotherapy and cryotherapy.
Melanoma: The most serious skin cancer; it begins in skin cells called melanocytes that produce skin color (melanin). Radiation therapy is used mostly for melanomas that started in another part of the body (metastases). It is used to treat areas where doctors think the disease may spread, such as the lymph nodes. Melanoma is usually treated first with surgery and may be followed by chemotherapy, radiation therapy and biologic therapy.
Merkel cell carcinoma: A rare skin cancer that develops between the dermis and epidermis. This cancer often requires treatment with a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.
Once a cancer diagnosis is made, you will likely talk with your primary care physician along with several cancer specialists to discuss what happens before, during and after treatment.
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