skin cancer

Introduction

skin cancer, malignant tumor of the skin. The most common types of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Rarer forms include mycosis fungoides (a type of lymphoma) and Kaposi's sarcoma. Overexposure to the sun is the primary cause of the common skin cancers, and the popularity of tanning since the 1930s lies behind the rise in skin cancer rates. The depletion of the earth's protective ozone layer also plays a role. The most effective way of preventing skin cancer is to avoid exposure to the sun's ultraviolet rays by consistently applying effective sunscreens (see sunburn) and wearing protective clothing.

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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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