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Click2Cancer.com  > Common Cancers  > Skin Cancer
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Causes of Cancer
Other Cancer Types
Skin cancer is a malignant growth on the skin which can have many causes. Skin cancer generally develops in the epidermis (the outermost layer of skin), so a tumor is usually clearly visible. This makes most skin cancers detectable in the early stages. There are three common types of skin cancer, each of which is named after the type of skin cell from which it arises. Cancers caused by UV exposure may be prevented by avoiding exposure to sunlight or other UV sources, and wearing sun-protective clothes. The use of sunscreen had been recommended in the past, but there is an increasing body of evidence that sunscreen is not entirely safe.

Unlike many other cancers, including those originating in the lung, pancreas, and stomach, only a small minority of those afflicted will actually die of the disease.[citation needed] Skin cancers are the fastest growing type of cancer in the United States. Skin cancer represents the most commonly diagnosed malignancy, surpassing lung, breast, colorectal and prostate cancer. More than 1 million Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer in 2008.
Skin cancer is most closely associated with chronic inflammation of the skin. This includes:

1. Overexposure to UV-radiation can cause skin cancer either via the direct- or via the indirect DNA damage mechanism. UVA & UVB have both been implicated in causing DNA damage resulting in cancer. Sun exposure between 10AM and 4PM is most intense and therefore most harmful. Natural (sun) & artificial UV exposure (tanning salons) are associated with skin cancer. Since sunbeds cause mostly indirect DNA damage (free radicals) their use is associated with the deadliest form of skin cancer - the malignant melanom.
2. Chronic non-healing wounds, especially burns. These are called Marjolin's ulcers based on their appearance and can develop into squamous cell carcinomaand.
3. Genetic predisposition, including "Congenital Melanocytic Nevi Syndrome". CMNS is characterized by the presence of "nevi" or moles of varying size that either appear at or within 6 months of birth. Nevi larger than 20 mm (3/4") in size are at higher risk for becoming cancerous.

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