Basal Cell and Squamous Cell Skin Cancers

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Overview Basal and squamous cell skin cancers, collectively known as non-melanoma skin cancers (NMSC), are the most common skin cancers.1,2 More than 1 million cases of NMSC are estimated to be diagnosed each year in the United States and their incidence is rising rapidly.3,4 Basal cell carcinomas are approximately 4 to 5 times more common than squamous cell carcinomas. Although rarely metastatic, basal and squamous cell cancers can produce substantial local destruction along with disfigurement, and may involve extensive areas of soft tissue, cartilage, and bone. The estimated annual cost of treating these 2 diseases in the United States Medicare population exceeds $400 million.5 However, NMSCs generally have a good prognosis. The most significant environmental carcinogen for NMSC is sunlight.6 Thus, individuals in Hawaii are at much greater risk than those in the northern parts of the United States. Fair-skinned individuals who have received too much sun exposure are at the greatest risk for these cancers. Most of these tumors develop on sun-exposed skin sites. The most common sites are on the head and neck area. According to a report from the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study, long-term survivors of childhood and adolescent cancers who have undergone prior radiation therapy are also at risk for developing NMSC.7 Actinic keratoses are sun-induced precancerous lesions.8,9 Bowen's disease is characterized by squamous cell carcinoma in situ lesions that occur predominantly in older persons.10 Both types of lesions, if untreated, can progress to invasive squamous cell carcinoma with the potential for metastasis. Skin cancer preventive...
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