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Skin Cancer

Skin Cancer

Definition of skin cancer: Cancer that forms in the tissues of the skin. There are several types of skin cancer. Skin cancer that forms in melanocytes (skin cells that make pigment) is called melanoma. Skin cancer that forms in the lower part of the epidermis (the outer layer of the skin) is called basal cell carcinoma. Skin cancer that forms in squamous cells (flat cells that form the surface of the skin) is called squamous cell carcinoma. Skin cancer that forms in neuroendocrine cells (cells that release hormones in response to signals from the nervous system) is called neuroendocrine carcinoma of the skin. Most skin cancers form in older people on parts of the body exposed to the sun or in people who have weakened immune systems. 

Estimated new cases and deaths from skin (nonmelanoma) cancer in the United States in 2014:

  • New cases: more than 2,000,000
  • Deaths: less than 1,000

See the online booklet What You Need To Know About™ Melanoma and Other Skin Cancers to learn about skin cancer symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and questions to ask the doctor.

See What Does a Mole Look Like? to view photos of moles and dysplastic nevi. 

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