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Are You at Risk for Skin Cancer?

Skin cancer starts in the outer layer of your skin, in one of three types of cells: basal, squamous, or melanocyte.

    Basal Cell Carcinoma—The most common form of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma usually appears as slow-growing, translucent, raised, pearly nodules which, if untreated, may crust, ulcerate, and sometimes bleed. If detected and treated early, there is a greater than 95 percent cure rate.

    Squamous cell carcinoma—A common form of skin cancer, squamous cell carcinoma appears as nodules or red, scaly patches and can metastasize if untreated. While the cure rate is very high if treated early, squamous cell carcinoma can sometimes result in death.

    Melanoma (cutaneous melanoma)—Melanoma is a disease of the skin in which cancer (malignant) cells are found in the cells that color the skin (melanocytes). It is the least common but fastest growing and most dangerous type of skin cancer. While it usually occurs in adults, it may also occasionally be found in children and adolescents.

Your skin is made up of two main layers: the epidermis (the top layer) and dermis (the inner layer). Melanocytes are found in the epidermis and they contain melanin, which gives skin its color.
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