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   Basic Information about Skin Cancer

    what is skin cancer from AAD what is melanoma from ACS
    what is skin cancer from the NCIwhat is melanoma from the NCI
    what is non-melanoma skin cancer from the ACS
    pictures of skin cancers, normal skin anatomy: here, here, here
    skin cancer prevention from the ACS here and NCI for patient or physician
    NIH Booklet, Up To Date:  here, here
    other skin diseases

    skin cancer information from Emedicine

    other web sites on skin cancer

Skin cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the skin.

The skin is the body’s largest organ. It protects against heat, sunlight, injury, and infection. Skin also helps control body temperature and stores water, fat, and vitamin D. The skin has several layers, but the two main layers are the epidermis (upper or outer layer) and the dermis (lower or inner layer). Skin cancer begins in the epidermis, which is made up of 3 kinds of cells:

  • Squamous cells: Thin, flat cells that form the top layer of the epidermis.
  • Basal cells: Round cells under the squamous cells.
  • Melanocytes: Found in the lower part of the epidermis, these cells make melanin, the pigment that gives skin its natural color. When skin is exposed to the sun, melanocytes make more pigment, causing the skin to darken.

Skin cancer can occur anywhere on the body, but it is most common in skin that has been exposed to sunlight, such as the face, neck, hands, and arms. There are several types of cancer that start in the skin. The most common types are basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, which are nonmelanoma skin cancers. Actinic keratosis is a skin condition that sometimes develops into squamous cell carcinoma.

This summary refers to the treatment of nonmelanoma skin cancer and actinic keratosis. Nonmelanoma skin cancers rarely spread to other parts of the body. Melanoma, the rarest form of skin cancer, is more likely to invade nearby tissues and spread to other parts of the body.

For  more detailed information about skin cancer, pictures of skin cancers and other types of skin cancer go here.