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Image of types of skin cancer
Skin cancer is the most common and curable form of cancer. Each year in the United States, more than one million skin cancers are diagnosed. The three most common types of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma (also called malignant melanoma).

Basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers are the most frequently diagnosed and the most curable of skin cancers. They usually appear in one place on the skin, rarely spreading to other parts of the body. However, if left untreated, they can grow locally within the skin and destroy surrounding tissues and structures such as nerves and muscles. Melanoma, which occurs less commonly, is more serious. When left untreated, melanoma can spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body. Early detection and treatment of melanoma are critical.

The goal of treating skin cancer is to remove or destroy the tumor along with a small surrouding margin of healthy tissue as protection against recurrence. Physicians treat skin cancer in the following ways:
  • Cryosurgery - freezing the affected skin
  • Currettage and cryotherapy - scraping the skin and then freezing the remaining skin
  • Excision - cutting out the tumor and surrounding tissue
  • Radiation therapy - using X-ray radiation to destroy cancer cells
  • Chemotherapy cream - applying a chemical to the skin to destroy the cells
  • Mohs surgery (also called Mohs micrographic surgery) - a specialized surgical treatment for skin cancer that results in the highest cure rate, while removing the least amount of healthy tissue


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