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Melanoma/Skin Cancer Health Center

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Cause

Nonmelanoma skin cancer is usually caused by overexposure to the sun and its ultraviolet (UV) rays. Overexposure to UV rays can result from:

  • Having severe sunburn and blistering, especially during childhood.
  • Spending a lot of time in the sun over many years.
  • Using tanning beds or sunlamps, which are artificial sources of UV rays.

Other possible causes of skincancer include repeated exposure to X-rays, certain chemicals (such as arsenic, coal tar, creosote), and radioactive substances (such as radium). Skin cancer may also be caused by ionizing radiation treatments for skin conditions such as psoriasis or acne.

Recommended Related to Melanoma/Skin Cancer

Understanding Skin Cancer -- Diagnosis and Treatment

All potentially cancerous skin growths must be biopsied to confirm a cancer diagnosis. Depending on the suspected type of skin cancer, the biopsy techniques vary slightly but crucially. Any potential melanoma requires a surgical biopsy, in which the entire growth is removed with a scalpel if possible. A pathologist then studies the sample under a microscope to determine whether cancer cells are present. If melanoma is diagnosed, other tests may be ordered to assess the degree of cancer spread (metastasis)...

Read the Understanding Skin Cancer -- Diagnosis and Treatment article > >

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: October 02, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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