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Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States with more than three million cases diagnosed each year. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, approximately one in five Americans will develop skin cancer at some point in their life. Skin cancer may develop anywhere on the body but is most common on sun exposed areas such as the face, neck, ears, and extremities.

The majority of skin cancers are composed of either basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, or melanoma. These cancers are named after the type of skin cells from which they originate. Basal cell carcinomas originate from the bottom layer of the epidermis called basal cells. They are the most common and least aggressive form of skin cancer. Squamous cell carcinomas originate from the top layers of the epidermis called squamous cells. These cancers are less common than basal cell carcinomas but are more aggressive with the potential to spread (metastasize). Melanomas originate from pigment-producing cells in the epidermis called melanocytes. While melanomas are the least common form of skin cancer, they are the most aggressive with a high risk of metastasis if left untreated.

Common risk factors for skin cancer include: fair skin, sun exposure, tanning beds, increased age, suppressed immune system, as well as multiple atypical or large moles. While skin cancers are common, they are highly curable if caught early and treated appropriately. Treatment depends on the type, size and location of the tumor.

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