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What is the difference between carcinoma and melanoma?

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Quick Answer

Carcinoma is a type of skin cancer that does not usually spread to other areas of the body, while melanoma is a more destructive form of cancer that is likely to spread, according to WebMD. Carcinoma occurs more frequently in older patients, while melanoma more often develops in younger patients.

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Full Answer

Carcinomas are identified as either basal cell or squamous cell. Basal cell carcinoma appears as a flat, pearly bump raised above the skin of the head, neck or shoulders. Squamous cell carcinoma shows up as a red, scaly bump on skin exposed to the sun. Usually, basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas do not require any treatment other than removal of the spot on the skin, and the cure rate is about 95 percent as of 2015, according to WebMD.

Melanoma is often identified through a skin lesion that turns from brown to black, as explained by WebMD. This type of skin cancer may also be identified through a change in the size, shape or height of a mole, or as the development of a new mole. Melanoma usually requires more aggressive treatment than carcinomas depending on the severity of the tumor. These treatments may include radiation, chemotherapy, surgery and immunotheraphy. The possibility of treating melanoma through the removal of tissue alone is better with thinner skin lesion.

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