Skin Cancer

Each year in the US, nearly 5 million people are treated for skin cancer. Over 70,000 people are diagnosed each year with melanoma, and about 10,000 people die of their cancer each year. Most skin cancers are sun-related or from tanning lights. Other risk factors include a genetic tendency, chemical pollution and X-ray radiation. Here are the signs of the three most common types of skin cancer:

  • Basal cell cancer: By far the most common skin cancer, usually appears as a smooth, waxy or pearly bump that grows slowly and rarely spreads or causes death.
  • Squamous cell cancer: Causes a firm, nodular or flat growth with a crusted, ulcerated or scaly surface on the face, ears, neck, hands or arms.
  • Melanoma: The most serious but least common skin cancer.

The ABCDE guideline below can help you tell a normal mole from one that could be cancer. Changes over time, such as fast growth, changes in color or shape, bleeding, or nonhealing sores could be signs of cancer.