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The basics

Skin cancers are malignant tumors resulting from the uncontrolled growth of abnormal skin cells. In a healthy person, skin cells are regenerated regularly in a controlled manner. In a skin cancer patient, the DNA within the cells of the affected region gets damaged, and they proliferate in an uncontrolled manner, causing rapid mutation and tumor formation.

Skin cancer tumors can appear anywhere on the body but are more common on sun-exposed areas. They can be detected by a dermatologist during a skin exam.

  • Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States.

  • At least one in five Americans will develop skin cancer during their lifetime.

  • More people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year in the country than all other cancers combined.

  • Cure rates can approach 99% if the skin cancer is detected and treated in the early stages.

  • Sun damage to the skin is cumulative over a person’s lifetime, so the average risk of skin cancer also increases as we age. 

The recent COVID-19 pandemic caused an abrupt drop in preventive cancer screenings performed across the United States. Skin cancer diagnoses in the United States dropped by an average of 46% compared to the same time in 2019. Because of delayed or missed screenings, some cancer cases could present at a later stage with worse outcomes.

Similar to scheduling your annual physical examination with your primary care provider or visiting your dentist for your annual checkup, it is equally important to conduct a self-examination of your skin every month and schedule a professional skin examination with your dermatologist once a year. If you have had skin cancer in the past or if you have a family history of skin cancer, we recommend skin exams once every six months.



Most common skin cancers start in the upper layer of the skin or the epidermis

Skin Cancer Types.jpg
Closeup of Actinic Keratosis on the skin

Actinic Keratoses

Actinic keratoses (singular: actinic kertosis), also known as solar keratoses, are precancerous scaly spots found on sun-damaged skin. They often develop into squamous cell carcinomas.

Close up of Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common form of skin cancer. Over 2 million Americans are diagnosed with it every year. Patients with BCC often develop multiple primary tumors over time.

Close up of Melanoma


Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer, caused by the uncontrolled growth of melanocytes, skin cells that produce the pigment melanin. It can spread from the skin to other parts of the body and is responsible for the majority of skin cancer deaths.

Close up of mole being examined with magnifying glass

Skin Cancer Screenings

Early detection of skin cancer can dramatically reduces risk of advanced skin cancer. Learn more about self-examinations and our cancer screening service.

Close up of Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma is a common form of skin cancer that develops in the squamous cells that make up the outer layer of the skin. Although it is usually not life-threatening, it can be aggressive in some cases.


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