The rising incidence and morbidity of non-melanoma skin cancers has generated great interest in unravelling of their pathogenesis and in the search for new non-invasive treatments. Whereas the role of cumulative sun exposure in pathogenesis of squamous-cell carcinoma seems clear, the relation between sun-exposure patterns and subtypes of basal-cell carcinoma remains undetermined. Several complex genotypic, phenotypic, and environmental factors contribute to pathogenesis of non-melanoma skin cancers. Unlike basal-cell carcinoma, squamous-cell carcinomas can arise from precursor lesions. Diagnosis of non-melanoma skin cancer is made clinically and confirmed by histological testing. Prognosis depends on lesion and host characteristics, which also dictate choice of treatment. Prevention strategies aim at reduction of sun exposure, but are of unproven benefit, especially for basal-cell carcinoma. Surgical excision with predetermined margins is the mainstay of treatment for squamous-cell carcinoma and for most basal-cell carcinomas. Of the new non-invasive treatments, only photodynamic therapy and topical imiquimod have become established treatments for specific subtypes of basal-cell carcinoma, and the search for more effective and tissue-salvaging therapies continues.
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