Skip to main content
ad info
  health > cancer AIDS Aging Alternative Medicine Cancer Children Diet & Fitness Men Women
  Editions | myCNN | Video | Audio | Headline News Brief | Feedback  

4:30pm ET, 4/16



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.

What does skin cancer look like?
Clinton diagnosed with skin cancer

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
August 16, 2000
Limiting exposure to summer sun helps reduce melanoma risk
June 19, 2000
Sunscreen reduces skin blemishes among schoolchildren, Canadian study says
June 14, 2000
Antioxidants help protect against sun's rays, study says
March 1, 2000
Sun-damaged cells may hold key to fighting skin cancer
August 5, 1999

American Cancer Society: Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer
American Academy of Dermatology
Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.


Back to the top