December 1, 2015
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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%-2% for Mohs surgery and up to 10%-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 a.m.-3 p.m. Do not use tanning beds, which are a major cause of excess ultraviolet light exposure and a significant risk factor for skin cancer. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), in its Nov. 2014 statement on the cost of skin cancer, there has been a dramatic rise in the numbers and cost of skin cancer. Furthermore, there has been an increase in the total number of skin cancers and that new breakthrough treatments for melanoma, although expensive, comprise only a small portion of the total cost of skin cancer treatment. Most skin cancers are treated cost efficiently by dermatologists in an office setting.

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 sunscreens block out so much of the sun's rays that inadequate vitamin D synthesis results. 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.


American Academy of Dermatology. "American Academy of Dermatology Statement on the Cost of Skin Cancer." Nov. 11, 2014. <>.

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

Guy, Gery P., Steven R. Machlin, Donatus U. Ekwueme, and K. Robin Yabroff. "Prevanlence and Costs of Skin Cancer Treatment in the U.S., 2002-2006 and 2007-2011." American Journal of Preventive Medicine Nov. 9, 2014. <>.

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 12/12/2014



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