Skin Cancer and the Suntan Generation

Researchers have learned that exposure to the sun is an important factor in the cause of skin cancer. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States and its incidence is increasing. About one out of seven Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime.

The two most common kinds of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Basal cell carcinoma accounts for more than 90 percent of all skin cancers in the United States. It is a slow-growing cancer that seldom spreads to other parts of the body. Squamous cell carcinoma also rarely spreads, but it does so more often than basal cell carcinoma.

Another type of skin cancer is melanoma. Melanoma affects the cells that reside in the lowest part of the epidermis (the outer layer of the skin). Early detection and treatment are critical to preventing the cancer from invading other areas of the body.

Skin cancer symptoms include a change on the skin. It can start with a firm, red lump, changes in color, pigment, or growth. It is important to see a doctor if symptoms last longer than two weeks.

For a list of Medicine for the Public booklets, write: Clinical Center Communications, National Institutes of Health, 10 CENTER DRIVE, BLDG 10 RM 1C255 MSC 1170, BETHESDA, MD 20892-1170. (NAPSI)

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