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Skin Cancer Overview (cont.)

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What is the prognosis for skin cancer?

The prognosis for skin cancer is generally excellent. There are virtually no deaths from basal cell carcinoma and only rare deaths with squamous cell carcinomas, mostly in immunosuppressed individuals. Depending on the method of treatment and the location and type of skin cancer, the likelihood of a recurrence of a previously treated skin cancer is as low as 1% to 2% for Mohs surgery and up to 10% to 15% for destruction by electrodessication and curettage.

Can skin cancer be prevented?

Many skin cancers can be prevented by avoiding the triggers that cause the tumors to develop. Prevention strategies include protection from the sun by the use of sunscreens, protective clothing, and avoidance of the sun during the peak hours of 9 AM to 3 PM. Do not use tanning beds, which are a major cause of excess ultraviolet light exposure and a significant risk factor for skin cancer.

Sunscreen use and vitamin D

A major source of vitamin D comes from sunlight exposure, which leads to the production of the vitamin in the skin. Some argue that sunscreens block out so much of the sun's rays that inadequate vitamin D synthesis is the result. In fact, very few people actually apply sunscreen to every inch of their exposed skin, so vitamin D synthesis does occur. There is no reason not to use sunscreens because of a fear of low vitamin D. If there is a concern, vitamin D can be obtained by eating leafy vegetables or taking a vitamin D supplement.


Bader, R. S., et al. "Basal Cell Carcinoma." Medscape. 16 Dec. 2013.

Monroe, M. M., et al. "Cutaneous Squamous Cell Carcinoma." Medscape. 3 Feb. 2014.

"Skin Cancer." National Cancer Institute.

Sosman, J. A., et al. "Patient Information: Melanoma Treatment; Advanced or Metastatic Melanoma (Beyond the Basics)." UpToDate. 30 May 2013.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/13/2014

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