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Clinton skin cancer highly curable
Basal cell carcinoma different from deadly melanoma
(CNN) - The type of skin cancer that struck President Bill Clinton is one of the most common - and most curable - forms of skin cancer.
Basal cell carcinoma accounts for about 75 percent of all skin cancers, according to the American Cancer Society. But unlike melanoma, the deadly skin cancer that struck Senator John McCain last year, basal cell carcinoma rarely spreads into other parts of the body and rarely causes death.
The disease begins in the epidermis, the top layer of skin, usually on the neck and head - areas that are most exposed to the sun. Lesions may look like flat, scaly red areas or shiny raised areas. Melanomas, on the other hand, are often brown or black and look like moles.
Basal cell carcinomas are slow-growing cancers. Most can be completely cured with minor surgery, according to ACS. While surgery is also the main treatment for melanoma, those that have spread generally require a secondary treatment method like chemotherapy, radiation or immunotherapy.
President Clinton has already had his lesion removed, but he will have to have follow-up visits with his doctor to assure that the cancer has not returned, the White House said.
Exposure to the sun and having fair skin are significant risk factors for both basal cell carcinoma and melanoma. Men, however, are more than twice as likely as women to get basal cell cancers.
Doctors advise using sunscreen, staying in the shade and covering exposed areas to lower your risk of skin cancer. They also advise examining your skin regularly and reporting any changes to your physician.
McCain part of growing group of melanoma sufferers
American Cancer Society: Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer
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