What is skin cancer?
Skin cancer is a term for variety of cancerous growths in the skin. Other names for cancer include tumor, malignancy, or carcinoma.
Are there different types of skin cancer?
Yes. The most common type is basal cell carcinoma. In the United States, approximately 35% of men and 25% of women will have this cancer in their lifetime. The second most common is squamous cell carcinoma, and malignant melanoma is the third. There are many other rarer types of skin cancer as well.
Are skin cancers life threatening?
Basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas are rarely life threatening, but if ignored, can be very destructive by overtaking normal surrounding tissue. Squamous cell carcinomas and malignant melanomas are readily curable if treated early. If diagnosis and treatment is delayed, squamous cell carcinomas and malignant melanomas can spread or metastasize to other regions of the body. Basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas never "turn into" malignant melanoma.
How is skin cancer treated, and how successful is it?
There are several effective treatments for these tumors. Therapies such as surgery, radiation, freezing with liquid nitrogen, burning with electric current have a greater than 90% cure rate.
For tumors that have recurred following the above treatments, or for cancers in difficult-to-treat sites, a surgical technique called Mohs Micrographic Surgery offers the best chance for total removal with the highest cure rate possible of 99%.