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Cancerous Lesion Removed From President Clinton's Back

President Clinton had a cancerous lesion removed from his back. Dr. Emily Senay is here with the latest.

Luckily for President Clinton, the cancer that was removed has been diagnosed as basal cell skin cancer, the least worrying form of skin cancer. It is easily removed and does not spread to other parts of the body.

Clinton went in last Friday to have a suspicious growth removed and tested. Yesterday, the White House revealed the news that the growth was in fact cancerous--but not life threatening, and had been completely removed.

President Clinton also had the area around the growth scraped and burned in order to clean out any remaining cancer cells and prevent the growth from coming back.

What are the chances that it will come back?

It is not very common at all for basal cell skin cancer to come back to the same place once it has been removed. But if you have a history of sun exposure, you run a higher risk of developing another basal cell cancer elsewhere. Clinton will get checked again in six months to make sure he is clear and then annually thereafter.

How is this cancer different from Senator John McCain's skin cancer?

There are three different kinds of skin cancer, and Clinton's basal cell is the least aggressive.

John McCain's skin cancer on the other hand is melanoma, much more deadly and aggressive and easily spread from the skin to other parts of the body.

Clinton's basal cell cancer is a slow-growing cancer that affects only the surface layer of the skin.

Are there warning signs for basal cell skin cancer?

There are some early signs of basal cell skin cancer to watch out for: a bleeding spot, a pimple-like lesion that heals but keeps coming back, a mark that looks like a scar where there was no injury to start, or a new bump with a pearly surface.

Can a basal cell skin cancer turn deadly?

No. But you should still keep checking your body for signs of melanoma. People who have had a lot of sun exposure and have had basal cell skin cancer are at higher risk of developing melanoma.

The warning signs for melanoma are the ones we've heard before as the A-B-C-D's. A for an asymmetrically shaped mole, B for irregular borders, C for different colored moles and D for a diameter bigger than a pencil eraser.

In general, you should watch out for any skin condition or growth that keeps growing, changing color or that's getting worse and not better.

Are there any other kinds of skin cancer you should watch out for?

The third type of skin cancer is squamous cell skin cancer, which also affects the surface layers of skin but is able to spread more easily to other parts of the body.

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