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Although prevention is still the best way to avoid tumors, early diagnosis, when the first symptoms of the disease appear, allows up to 95% of cases to be cured, so regular checks for any changes in the skin is fundamental. “A pigmented lesion that is itchy, is growing, bleeds or changes color should be warning for the patient to consult a doctor”, warns Dr. Albero Conde Taboada, head of the Dermatology Service at MD Anderson Cancer Center Madrid.

In spite of the fact that a small percentage of skin cancers are due to hereditary causes, it is known that the direct cause is the sun. The three most common types of this tumor are basal cell carcinoma or epithelioma, squamous cell carcinoma or epithelioma and malignant melanoma. The latter is responsible for 80% of deaths by skin cancer in Spain and develops when melanocytes, which produce skin pigment, become malignant.

Specialists insist that it is also important to pay attention to pre-cancerous forms like actinic keratosis or solar keratosis, which can turn into squamous cell carcinoma. These take the appearance of scaly or crusty plaques, rough and red or brown in color on the skin, but are often more noticeable by tact than by sight. As in the case of skin cancer, actinic keratosis usually appear in areas exposed to the sun, although they may be found on other parts of the body.