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What Is Skin Cancer? (video)

Of the three main type of skin cancers, melanoma is deadliest.

Of the three main type of skin cancers, melanoma is deadliest.

Hugh Greenway, MD, a dermatologic surgeon at Bighorn Mohs Surgery and Dermatology Center, discusses the different types of skin cancer, who gets skin cancer, survival rates and treatments.

Video transcript

How common is skin cancer?

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the world that we see today. In this country, we see 3 million cases per year, the most dangerous being melanoma, where we see over 100,000 cases per year.

What are the types of skin cancer?

The three main types of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma.

What are the survival rates for skin cancer?

The survival rates of skin cancer are actually very good. For a basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma, it should be 98 plus percent or even higher. For melanoma, we’re fortunate that it’s at least 90 percent, including the aggressive melanomas.

What about catching it early?

The key to skin cancer is early diagnosis, just like it is in other cancers. If you have a changing lesion, you should be checked by your doctor so we can make the diagnosis early.

How do you treat skin cancer?

Skin cancer is treated in a variety of ways. The most common way is surgery. On occasion, radiation, sometimes creams, sometimes injectables are used. But surgery is the mainstay for treating skin cancer.

Who gets skin cancer?

Skin cancer is more common in people that have fair skin, light-colored eyes, and people that live in areas like San Diego, where there’s a lot more sunshine.

If you’ve had skin cancer, what are the chances of it coming back?

If you have had skin cancer and it’s been treated effectively, that skin cancer will not come back. But you are at higher risk for developing another skin cancer somewhere on your body.

Where does skin cancer commonly show up?

The most common areas for basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are where you’ve had the most sun during your lifetime, including your face, your neck, your forearms, the backs of your hands. Malignant melanoma is a little bit different. It’s where you’ve had sunburns, most commonly the chest, the back and the lower legs in ladies.

Watch more Ask the Expert videos now for quick answers to common medical questions.