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Skin Cancer Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

The three major types of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma. Basal cell cancers, the least serious type, account for 80 percent of skin cancers. Only 5 percent are melanoma, the most serious and potentially deadly type. The remaining 15 percent are squamous cell carcinomas, which are less serious than melanoma but can spread to other parts of the body. Avera’s dermatology specialists have the expertise to evaluate suspicious skin lesions and treat as necessary.

Signs and symptoms

Examine your skin from head to toe once every month and see your doctor every year for a professional skin cancer exam. Any unusual mole, bump or scaly spot should be checked by a physician, especially if it grows, changes over time or bleeds.


Skin lesions are typically removed surgically or during an office procedure. Skin cancer can also be treated by very targeted, localized radiation known as brachytherapy. When necessary, melanoma can be treated with chemotherapy, radiation, biologic therapy and targeted therapies. The best weapon against skin cancer is prevention:

  • Avoid sunburn. Don’t forget that sunburn is possible even on a cloudy day. Having five or more sunburns doubles your risk of skin cancer
  • Seek the shade, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when sunlight is most intense
  • Wear sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 every day. Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going outside, and reapply every two hours
  • Cover up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses
  • Avoid tanning and UV tanning salons