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May is Skin Cancer and Melanoma Awareness Month

Skin cancer is among the most common forms of cancer to appear in the United States today, and as people living in the CNMI, under the equatorial sun, it's even more important for us to actively protect ourselves from the dangers of skin cancer.

Photo by Tara Winstead, taken from

What is Skin Cancer?

Our bodies are made up of a combined trillions of cells which make up our blood, bones, and organs. The human skin is the largest, and most exposed, of the body's organs -- consisting of billions of cells. In our lifetime, these cells typically age and replace themselves with new cells as they die. However, cancer occurs when these old, or abnormal, cells do not die. In some cases, these abnormal cells can continue to replicate, leaving less space for healthy cells to play their part in the body. This can make it difficult for the body to function the way you'd expect.

As the skin is the largest organ and does not have a protective layer around it, it is more exposed to the elements than most of the body. This means that there are more things which can harm the skin, and start this process of abnormal cell growth. This is called skin cancer, and it comes in three forms: squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma, and melanoma. The following sections will provide more information on each type of skin cancer, risk factors for developing skin cancer, and what you can do to decrease your risk of developing skin cancer.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)

Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)


How to Protect Yourself

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