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What is non-melanoma skin cancer?
Non-melanoma skin cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal skin cells.
It tends to develop on the outer layer of the skin that is exposed to the sun. Skin cancer can usually be treated easily by removing the area of abnormal skin. It rarely spreads to other parts of the body.
Non-melanoma skin cancer is the most common cancer in Ireland. More than 10,000 people are diagnosed with it each year.
About your skin
The skin is the outer covering of your body. The skin has two main layers:
- The outer layer (epidermis)
- The inner or deeper layer (dermis)
The outer layer has three types of cells:
- Flat, scaly cells called squamous cells.
- Rounder cells called basal cells, found below the squamous cells.
- Cells that give skin its colour (melanocytes). These are in between the basal cells.
Non-melanoma skin cancer affects the squamous cells and basal cells.
Melanoma skin cancer affects the melanocytes.
The deepest layer called the dermis has blood and lymph vessels, hair roots and sweat glands.
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