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Melanoma Death Rate Still Climbing

Posted: June 19, 2006
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer suffered by people, accounting for more than half of all malignancies, according to the American Cancer Society.

So when you're out lounging in the sun this summer, working on that tan, remember that you're putting your body's largest organ at risk for cancer.

But preventing skin cancer can be as easy as limiting sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. and keeping a close eye on your skin for suspicious growths and moles. And recent research breakthroughs may aid treatment, particularly with melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer.

People rarely die from nonmelanoma skin cancer, which includes basal cell and squamous cell cancers. These malignancies claim the lives of about 2,800 Americans each year, compared with more than 1 million new cases diagnosed annually.

"Basal cell skin cancer is like a rust spot on a car door," said Dr. Ken Gross, a clinical professor of dermatology at the University of California, San Diego. "If you ignore it, it'll eat through that spot, but it will never reach the engine or the transmission."