Skin Cancer Overview (cont.)
Norman Levine, MD
Dr. Norman Levine, MD, is a dermatologist in active practice in Tucson, Arizona. He has authored four books about skin health and dermatology therapy and contributed to hundreds of articles, several book chapters, and even a CD-ROM. Dr. Levine is a reviewer of dermatological cases for Physicians' Review Network.
John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.
In this Article
- What is skin cancer?
- What are the risk factors for skin cancer?
- What causes skin cancer?
- What are the different types of skin cancer?
- What are the signs and symptoms of skin cancer?
- When is a mole dangerous or high-risk for becoming a skin cancer?
- What are the most common sites where skin cancer develops?
- How is skin cancer diagnosed?
- What is the staging for skin cancer?
- What is the treatment for skin cancer?
- What is the prognosis for skin cancer?
- Can skin cancer be prevented?
- Sunscreen use and vitamin D
- Pictures of Skin Cancer Signs - Slideshow
- Take the Skin Cancer Quiz
- Pictures of Sun-Damaged Skin - Slideshow
- Skin Cancer (Melanoma) FAQs
- Find a local Dermatologist in your town
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. <https://www.aad.org/stories-and-news/news-releases/american-academy-of-dermatology-statement-on-the-cost-of-skin-cancer>.
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. <http://www.ajpmonline.org/article/S0749-3797(14)00510-8/fulltext>.
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.
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